Last updated on June 2nd, 2022
Want to know what’s on in London this month? Get your June diaries out and get planning with my guide to some of the best cultural things to do in London this June including exhibitions, theatre, events, opera and music. I’ve also rounded up some free things to do in and around the capital. Oh, and did I mention Her Majesty the Queen is celebrating 70 years on the throne? Deep breath in readers, June in London is a biggie!
Londoness Loves: Cultural things to do in London this June
Free things to do in London this month
Tiffany & Co is bringing over 400 objects from its archives to the Saatchi Gallery. A visual chronicle of the storied jeweller since its founding in New York City in 1837, Vision & Virtuosity takes visitors on a journey through everything from archival high jewellery designs, Tiffany’s famed window displays and its recently acquired Empire Diamond of over 80 carats to important relics of popular culture such as the original script from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The exhibition will include a spectacle of diamonds, dedicated to Tiffany’s renowned diamond creations. At the culmination of the exhibition, guests will have an opportunity to view the legendary 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond. Book your free tickets via the Tiffan’s app, available on IOS and Google Play. 10 June to 19 August.
If you can’t get to Superbloom at the Tower of London (but please do try as it will be absolutely glorious), you can still see Max Jacquard’s 13 giant glassworks which are part of the Queen’s Gardens on the southside of the Tower. Each glass design has been inspired by the original embroidered motifs on the Queen’s coronation dress created in 1952 by Norman Hartnell with a huge crystal crown as the centrepiece. Jacquard’s studio has painstakingly created thousands of diamonds, cords, and pearls from glass for the sculptures over three months with a full-time team of 5 people. A total of 3,517 jewels were modelled in wax with over 7,623 pieces press moulded for the 700mm high sculptures in coloured glass. 1 June to 18 September.
The Serpentine Pavilion is back this June, designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates who drew inspiration from the significance of the great kilns of Stoke-on-Trent. 10 June to 16 October.
Staying at the Serpentine, enjoy another free event with the Back to Earth exhibition which will explore the responses to the climate emergency and spotlight a multitude of durational perspectives from across the globe. The exhibition will reflect how we can learn from diverse experiences to create change.
To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, join guide lecturer Andrew Shingleton on 11 June for a short talk, looking at royal connections in the Wallace Collection.
The Science Museum has opened a major, free exhibition – Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope. It’s the first major exhibition to explore the history and future of cancer treatment and research. Visitors will discover incredible historical objects, cutting-edge diagnostic and surgical technologies, encounter new artist commissions and installations, get hands-on with interactive exhibits and experience a breadth of personal stories. Book your free tickets here. To January 2023.
Opera Holland Park’s Songs on the Steps will offer a range of new and familiar arias to capture the imaginations of devotees and dog walkers, passers-by and picnickers, featuring music from the 2022 Season. No booking required, bring a rug or a cushion, and enjoy forty minutes of free music in the fresh air of Holland Park. To 29 July.
For the weekend of 18-19 June, Exhibition Road, the world-famous home of some of the UK’s greatest museums and centres of innovation, will become a vibrant festival, celebrating the ideas, people and communities that are changing our world. The Great Exhibition Road Festival will be full of inspirational events for all ages and opportunities to hear from – and take part in activities with – some of the world’s great, innovative minds. Admission to the festival, and all of its events, is free.
For four nights over the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, the world’s longest public artwork, Illuminated River by Leo Villareal, will be lit in a celebratory sequence of majestically evolving colour and light. The special edition of the artwork will be unveiled at sunset on Thursday 2 June and will run each night until 2.00am on Monday 6 June. Nine central London Thames bridges, from Lambeth Bridge to London Bridge, will be choreographed in the synchronised flow of subtly moving LED light with tones of platinum and purple threaded within the main colour scheme.
Enjoy evensong in one of London’s most beautiful (and screen-famous) churches: St Bartholomew the Great on 14 June.
For the first time, Picasso’s Woman with a Book (1932) will be brought together with the painting that inspired it, Madame Moitessier by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. On at the National Gallery from 3 June to 9 October.
Head over to Christie’s for The Art of Literature, showcasing masterpieces from across three millennia of literary and artistic culture around the globe, including works by William Shakespeare; Pablo Picasso; Marlene Dumas; James Joyce; John William Waterhouse; Lucian Freud and J.K. Rowling. On from 6 June to 15 July.
Although we think of Shakespeare as “the man from Stratford”, he spent most of his creative life in London, and the city left its mark on him. In this online talk, City of London Guide Pete Smith will introduce you to what traces of him can still be found in and around the City. 8 June.
Gagosian is hosting Haunted Realism, a group exhibition featuring the work of more than thirty artists including Meleko Mokgosi, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, and Tatiana Trouvé. Haunted Realism takes its title in part from hauntology, a term coined by Jacques Derrida in his 1993 book Specters of Marx to characterize what he considered the tendency of Marxism to “haunt Western society from beyond the grave.” 9 June to 26 August.
This summer, in collaboration with Fred Perry, the Design Museum presents Fred Perry: A British Icon – an exhibition celebrating the stories of the eponymous brand, the global communities who wear it, and the tennis champion who inspired it all. The exhibition invites visitors to follow the story of the brand’s sporting founder and its importance to subcultures through a new installation of original objects, design process and specially commissioned films. 10 to 19 June.
Coinciding with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Fitzrovia Gallery presents Post Normality Reality Disorder — The Redux by Jamie Gallagher. To 5 June.
A new exhibition at The William Morris Society explores the art and advocacy of May Morris, the youngest daughter of William Morris, exploring her exceptional designs for Morris & Co., her expertise in decorative needlework, her significant position within the public sphere, her pivotal role in co-founding the Women’s Guild of Arts and her great efforts in memorialising her father’s legacy.
A new collection of eleven artworks by internationally renowned and emerging artists will be showcased throughout the City’s public spaces in Sculpture in the City alongside six sculptures retained from the previous edition, and two permanent acquisitions, providing an opportunity to discover world-class public art across this unique urban landscape. These will be placed adjacent to iconic contemporary architectural landmarks such as the Gherkin; the Cheesegrater and Lloyds of London, as well as new and historic spaces within the City such as Leadenhall Market. Launches 21 June.
From the large-scale panoramic to the intensely intimate, Exposure: Lives at Sea at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich captures both the extreme environments and everyday sights of our seas and oceans today. Bringing together photography taken around the world, from the reefs of Mexico to the isolation of Antarctica, this free exhibition shows us the myriad ways life can be spent at sea. On until 31 August.
I mentioned this last month, but as it’s now tried and tested and absolutely fabulous, so please do yourself a favour and head over to Sotheby’s for the Jubilee Season. A series of talks is complemented by displays including a glittering collection of tiaras and some fierce British female monarchs of past and present. It’s on until the 15 June and not to be missed. More information here.
London Art and Exhibition this month
The 254th Summer Exhibition heads back to the Royal Academy this June, a unique celebration of contemporary art and architecture, providing a vital platform and support for the artistic community. Celebrated British sculptor Alison Wilding RA will co-ordinate this year’s Summer Exhibition. As always, the majority of works will be for sale, offering visitors an opportunity to purchase original work. Book here (under 16s go free). 21 June to 22 August.
This summer, celebrate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as the Tower of London is encircled by millions of flowers in the stunning Superbloom – a spectacular floral display from 20 million seeds which have been sown in the Tower’s moat to create a floral display and haven for wildlife. A score by Scottish composer Erland Cooper, ‘Music for Growing Flowers’ provides the perfect backdrop to watch the blooms as they begin to flourish and there’s a slide, guaranteed to make you scream and laugh for both young and old (yours truly certainly enjoyed it). 1 June – 18 September.
An exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s intimate and erotic images opens in his former home in Twickenham. Between the Sheets represents a unique opportunity for the public to see Turner’s private, erotic, small-scale work in an equally intimate environment – the exhibition space is in the smaller bedroom of the house Turner himself designed. Entrance is included with the ticket to the house. 8 July to 30 October.
The Garden Museum’s annual British Flowers Week exhibition is returning with five of Britain’s top florists – Frida Kim, Harriet Parry, Kate Wren Flowers, McQueens Flowers, and Wagner Kreusch – creating sculptural flower installations with seasonal, sustainably-sourced, British-grown flowers, arranged using environmentally friendly materials and methods. These stunning installations will transform the Garden Museum into a five-day immersive floral wonderland filled with the heavenly scents and colours of beautiful British blooms. 9 to 13 June.
Ahead of the grand reopening of Leighton House this Autumn, join a behind-the-scenes tours for the chance to have exclusive access to some of the redeveloped areas of the museum, following its major transformation. Book here.
A Thousand Words for Weather is a new sound installation and exhibition taking place inside London’s iconic Senate House Library. Featuring thousands of words describing the weather in ten languages spoken across the city, the installation responds to live weather data from the Met Office and explores how we communicate about the environment. Book here. 22 June to 30 July.
London Opera and Classical Music this June
The Up Close and Musical 2022 festival takes place at London’s Fidelio Café and presents an all-female line up of performers in five concerts across 24 and 25 June. Round the evening up with dinner or drinks in this truly delightful café in London’s Clerkenwell. You can read up about my last visit here.
Historical performance ensemble Figure will bring a fresh and intimate semi-staged performance of Handel’s Serse to London’s Opera Holland Park this June. Recently nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the most influential artists in the UK, British soprano Sarah Tynan will take on the role of Romilda, with renowned Mezzo Soprano Cecelia Hall (The Metropolitan Opera; Oper Frankfurt) singing the title role. 30 June. Book here.
The Platinum Jubilee Celebration majestic concert will be celebrating 70 years of Her Majesty’s reign. Saturday 4 June at 2.30pm at the Royal Festival Hall.
Join Opera Prelude for an evening of enduring favourites from some of the most loved opera, and songs from stage and screen at the Garrison Chapel. 14 June. Book here.
Award-winning director Richard Jones returns to The Royal Opera to stage Saint-Saëns’s spectacular masterpiece of Samson et Dalila. To 19 June.
One of the world’s leading pianists, Angela Hewitt brings her expressive and intricate playing to Cadogan Hall on 6 June.
Spitalfields Music Festival will see world premieres, new music and classic repertoire performed in iconic East London locations this month, including the world premiere of The Orchestral Music of Afghanistan: Looking Forward, for which Master Afghan musicians who have been forced into exile or hiding have been commissioned to write new compositions of Afghan traditional songs for a chamber orchestra of instruments. Book here. 30 June to 13 July.
London Theatre and Stage this month
The dippy, accident-prone Frank Spencer is back on-stage with Joe Pasquale in the leading role in the stage production of the classic 1970s TV comedy, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em. Sarah Earnshaw is his long-suffering wife Betty and Susie Blake is the disapproving mother-in-law, Mrs Fisher. On until 4 June.
Shakespeare in the Squares returns to London’s garden squares this summer with The Tempest. In their most ambitious season to date, with venues now reaching north to Camden Square, east to Charterhouse Square, and south to Wandsworth, the production tours 18 squares across London, opening on 21 June at Arundel and Ladbroke Gardens. On until 8 July.
David Harbour and Bill Pullman return to the West End in the world première of Theresa Rebeck’s dark and funny new play: Mad House. 15 June to 4 September. Book here.
Anything Goes, the ‘musical equivalent of sipping one glass of champagne after another’ is back at The Barbican. 25 June to 3 September.
You can’t top Jodie Comer’s performance in Prima Facie but the Harold Pinter will be trying with its new production of The Seagull starring Emilia Clarke. Book here. 29 June to 10 September.
To celebrate the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary, Matthew Bourne brings his multi-award-winning production of The Car Man to the Hall for the first time. A dance-thriller based on Bizet’s Carmen, The Car Man will be completely reimagined for the gladiatorial arena of the Royal Albert Hall, adding a frisson of danger as the dancers perform throughout the auditorium amid stage designs by Olivier and Tony award-winner Lez Brotherston. 9 to 19 June.
A modern Mexican classic of magic realism provides the basis for The Royal Ballet’s new ballet, Like Water for Chocolate.
London Events this June
Experience the sport of kings as knights from around the country joust to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Hampton Court Palace. Pick your favourite knight and cheer them on as they compete for the coveted cup in the Jubilee Joust. Pomp, ceremony and splendour will reign supreme, as this family-friendly event takes place in the palace’s spectacular gardens. 1 to 5 June.
Out of Towners
This year, I will be taking you not once, but twice to Grange Park Opera in Surrey. First up will be a review of The Excursions of Mr Broucek followed by La Gioconda with opera superstar Joseph Calleja in the lead. Grange Park is one of the highlights of The Summer Season, a magical day out in a bucolic setting – with picnic of course. Book here. 9 June to 17 July.
Featuring over 100 musicians, Beyond the Bricks of Brum performance will showcase the very best of Birmingham to the world, celebrating the city’s musical place in the Commonwealth. Book here. 17 June.
Rory Hutton is a Cambridge based artist, designer and historian who designs luxury silk scarves Inspired by history, art, architecture, theatre, opera and dance. He has designed over 100 silk scarves for many prestigious arts and heritage institutions including the Royal Opera House, The Royal Collection, The British Museum, Westminster Abbey and The Victoria & Albert Museum. Notable commissions have included a collaboration with the Royal Ballet to celebrate the centenary of Dame Margot Fonteyn’s birth in 2019 and a current collaboration with Westminster Abbey to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Check out his website here.
Cover image: Andy Warhol, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom at Sotheby’s.