1 BBB’s Guide to the alternative Summer Season - The Battered Black Book

BBB’s Guide to the alternative Summer Season

The British Summer Season brings to mind lazy afternoons, strawberries, tennis balls, stripy socks and of course, an incredible selection of hats, but here at BBB we also like to celebrate the slightly less obvious choices of (hopefully sunny) fun.

Whilst we all love the classics like Ascot, Henley, Wimbledon and Edinburgh, there are a host of other events that are already in our diaries. Here are a few of our favourite alternative calendar events, big and small, to get on your radar…

First up, it’s the time of Summer Solstice and Midsummer this weekend!

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year and for centuries, this day has been celebrated by cultures in a variety of ways. At Stonehenge, visitors from all around the world gather to watch the sun rise above the stones. The most important day of the year at this iconic historical site, it’s an ad hoc celebration that brings together thousands of people, from England’s New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) to ordinary families, tourists, travellers and party people. This really is something special to behold (as many flocked to see at dawn this morning). This weekend sees a host of Swedish Midsummer celebrations too, not to be missed!

London is home to one of the UK’s biggest, most diverse Pride celebrations, with events throughout June and July and the colourful parade itself on 6th July. In a world where unity is more vital than ever, this is a celebration of diversity and a vital home for every part of London’s LGBT+ community (and beyond). The wide variety of events span across performance, art, cinema and clubs, spanning established London venues and pop-ups alike. The parade sets off from Portland Place at noon, moving down Oxford Circus, along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus and on down to Whitehall, ending around 5.30pm (with myriad parties after of course!) The streets are full of revellers but if you prefer a solid base, grandstand tickets are also available for the best views of the incredible floats and performers.

Another arguably even bigger event is Brighton Pride. Street parties, the huge parade and a wealth of performances across Brighton and Hove make this perhaps the most popular celebration in Britain, with huge fundraising elements to give back to the community and work for a brighter future. The whole range of tickets can be booked in advance (and they sell out, so be quick!)

Manchester also has big Pride celebrations, with an official weekend at the end of August with various free and ticketed parties, performances and events. Ariana Grande headlines this years event, a poignant booking for both her and the city.

Whichever city you decide, BBB has excellent hotel recommendations and special rates, get in touch for info!

Manchester International Festival runs from 4-21 July and is a breathtaking showcase of innovative talent and culture. Over 18 extraordinary days, the city is host to world premieres, special events and unique performances from international and local names. A celebratory atmosphere radiates throughout the city from the freely accessible programme of live music and DJ sets, as well as pop-up events, independent food stands and much more.

There’s much that makes Manchester International Festival exceptional. It proudly premieres progressive, experimental new work, using cutting-edge technology every other year, and 2019 is no exception. Highlights on the programme include Yoko Ono, David Lynch, Janelle Monae, Anna Calvi, Supper Clubs, Interactive exhibitions and many more.

Full information can be found on the festival website – for somewhere to stay during your trip, just ask us!

Whilst we’re big fans of the international sister festival, today we’re highlighting Edinburgh Fringe. Throughout most of August, the city comes alive with over 50,000 performances from the classic to the bizarre, the serious to comedy. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.

Our hot pick for Fringe 2019 is Parakeet at Summerhall. Based around an isolated teenager in Margate who forms a band and finds her voice with the help of a gang of exotic birds, the show is about ‘finding your flock and ruffling feathers.’ Written by Brigitte Aphrodite with music by Quiet Boy, you don’t want to miss this! ‘Imagine the Mighty Boosh crossed with the best episode of Girls. Prepare to cry and laugh several times over. You’ll leave a better person’ (Elle for their previous production, My Beautiful Black Dog).

The Jane Austen Festival is 10 days celebrating all things Austen, spread across locations in the beautiful Georgian city of Bath. So if literary delights are your thing, this is the place for you. The festival abounds in workshops, readings, walking tours, afternoon teas, supper clubs and of course, balls! Tickets are priced per event (general sale from 1st July) with special access and deals for ‘Festival Friends’ available now. The full programme is online already.

For Londoners looking for something more low-key, we love the Film4 Summer Screen series at Somerset House. London’s largest open air cinema experience with excellent surround sound, it’s spread across 14 summer evenings and offers entertainment in a beautiful setting with a range of luxury extras…. New for 2019, you can now select from a range of seating options, meaning no more numb bottoms! Visitors are welcome to bring picnics, blankets and cushions, but those seeking a little more comfort can also book beanbags and director chairs! Not only that, but you can also pre-book your hamper or even a 3-course dinner at the Bryn Williams restaurant! Date night packages, with drinks, chocolate and popcorn, and sharer bundles of treats for friends are also available.

With an excellent programme including Before Sunrise & Before Sunset (Double Bill), Clueless and Reservoir Dogs, we’re booking now! Full info available here.

Last but certainly not least, this weekend sees the return of the legendary Art Car Boot Fair in Kings Cross. The event will bring together over 120 artists at Lewis Cubitt Square – a beautiful new civic space designed by Laurie Olin and right next to Coal Drops Yard. For the uninitiated, the Art Car Boot Fair is a curated contemporary art event where a fantastic line-up of artists are invited to create artworks especially for the day and to show up in person to sell them at astonishingly low prices. Some art world star sporting and super bargains are the order of the day! The theme for 2019 theme is love – love for the planet, love for each other and, of course, love of art. Also on the agenda are mystery prizes, raffles, pass the art parcel, the art of dating and the Secret Midsummer Art Casino! You might even get lucky and get artwork personalised directly by the artists or even your portrait painted! If you’re an art fan without the mega budget, this is a wonderful opportunity to invest, as well as enjoy a host of cool performances and an array of food and drinks stalls. Advance ticket holders only between 1-2pm, then tickets on the door after 2pm. Tickets available here.

Need a luxury car to get you to the event? Need a tip for an expert dry cleaner after a big day out, a nanny to look after little ones or anything else to make the most of the Summer Season? Just reach out to us at info@thebbbook.com, we’re always happy to help and there’s no cost for our introductions or advice!

Don’t forget also that BBB have a range of expert contacts who can also source tickets for sold out theatre shows, Wimbledon, football or whatever else you or your principle may need. Just contact Alex Popoff at alex@thebbbook.com for all ticketing enquiries.