The best things to do this summer around Roman Road

The weather has heated up (big time) and summer is well and truly in the air; so here is a list of the best events happening on and around the Roman.

Not sure how to spend your free time now the summer holidays have arrived? Lucky for us, the East End sure knows how to be the life and soul of the party. With so many interesting people, buildings, green spaces, shops, bars, and cafes there is no chance you’ll be bored over the summer holiday. And even for those on a budget, we have included a number of free events to go, visit, see and do.

Here is a round-up of the best summer events near the Roman; from free exhibitions to outdoor activities, and workshops to gigs, we have it all!

Enjoy a day out with friends

Feeling artsy? Until 4th September, Whitechapel Gallery is hosting its triennial exhibition, The London Open. Running for 90 years, this year’s edition features 46 London based artists who are showcasing their work through the medium of paint, sculptures, moving image, installation, and performance.

From one end of East London to the other, Stratford has a fun-packed summer of events. Enjoy live music events and live streaming of sports events such as the Commonwealth Games, this year held in Brimingham. It is also showing free films all throughout summer – Lion King anyone? So grab a pal, pull up a deck chair, get a cooling drink in hand and enjoy the show.

While most of us will have a day or a week off (some maybe even two!), work still has to get done so how about you and your bestie work together? Head to Mainyard Studios on Bow Road or Hackney Wick and rent a co-working space for £12 a day. And there, you then have the fun of the Hackney Wick playground on your doorstep for those after-work drinks.

Speaking of after-work drinks, we could not but mention our array of neighborhood pubs. With the continental weather, our pubs, and their gardens, truly come into their own. Two classics that should be top of everyone’s outdoor summer drinking list are The Green Goose and The Approach Tavern. Both offer the largest outdoor seating options in the area, the former walled and south-facing, the latter with a more open aspect overlooking the grand terraces on Approach Road. 

Mile End’s The Palm Tree’s is also high on our list. This might not have a formal beer garden, but the grass next to the canal is a great space for large groups.

Check out our other best pubs for outdoor drinks here.

Fun things to do with the family

Chisenhale Gallery on Old Ford Road

Faced with a long six-week holiday stretch, it can seem like a never-ending puzzle to work out how to keep everyone in the family entertained. But luckily our neighbourhood’s got loads of great options to keep the kids, from babies to older teens, from getting bored. 

Chisenhale Art Gallery is hosting free events summer for the whole family to join. There are family dance classes, art workshops, and bird feeder workshops.

Further west in Bethnal Green and based in an impressive Victorian building, Oxford House has a jam-packed summer programme full of free events and fun. Enroll your kids into a Hip-Hop Dance Workshop while you take rooftop drawing with the Royal Drawing School. 

With the prospect of summer stretched out in front of us, use this time to pick up a new language skill. Join the 150,000 British Sign Language (BSL) users in the UK, and be part of a growing community which uses this visual mode of communication, by taking part in BSL organisation SignSay’s summer courses. Attend a one-week course (‘For the Brave’ it says!), or, ‘For the Very Brave’ a one-day intensive course. Suitable for all ages, you will learn the full BSL Level 1 course and, if ready, can go take the BSL Level 1 exam. In the future, you can even rejoin at future lessons at no extra charge.

Tower Hamlets has historically been at the epicentre of food production and manufacturing. The location of the East End docks ensured that the area and its people had a ready access of fresh food supplies from across the globe. Opening on 4th August, the latest exhibition at Tower Hamlets Library ‘Feeding the Hamlets’ explores the lesser-known tales from the history of food production in the East End – from flour milling and sugar refining to cow-keeping and vegetable growing. 

From historic food production to present-day goods production, Roman Road’s Urban Makers continues to hold its market at Old Spitalfields Market on Wednesdays and on the last weekend of every month, selling everything from jewellery, prints, kids toys, and homeware. And at its Roman Road shop, it takes on different designers each month so there is always something new to discover. 

Throughout August and into early September, Summer of Wellbeing Festivals is taking place across the borough. As well as arts and crafts workshops and local food stalls popping up, the festival offers families a chance to get a free health check-up and health advice.

The Thames, and its contributing rivers and canals, are tightly woven into the borough’s history; learn more about our connection to the water at the Thames festival, Totally Thames 2022. Now in its 25th year, the month-long celebration has almost 100 events (16 of which are in Tower Hamlets). Events taking place in this borough include: a walking tour of East India Docks; a tour of Bow Creek led by historian and author of Derelict London Paul Talling; and, a Thames archeology tour in Wapping.

Best outdoor events

Spend your time outdoors at the borough’s most ethereal gardens: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. This summer, it is offering ten free wildlife and heritage-themed walks to teach locals and visitors about the unique heritage of the park and its abundant wildlife. Channel your inner Bear Grylls and book onto a minibeast safari, or explore the fascinating graves and landmarks in its heritage trail.

Wildlife Walks are taking off this summer, as Vicky Park is also hosting a variety of wildlife walks. There’s a bug and tree walk, a fruit and seed trail, and a wildflowers tour. So bask in the balmy summer weather, and enjoy a relaxed and educational walk around the People’s Park.

From calming walks to raving parties, the biggest festival in East London is back! Since 2018, All Points East has become one of London’s most popular festivals. This year, the headline acts gracing Victoria Park include The Gorrilaz, The Chemical Brothers, and Tame Impala. See the park and its nearby streets bubble with life or even grab yourself a ticket and enjoy the show.

Don’t go to the light! Or maybe do… Canary Wharf is hosting a new free exhibition all through July and August, celebrating the beauty of natural light and long summer days. The outdoor spaces have been transformed, with eleven new installations and six permanent pieces, as well as a spectacular hand-blown glass exhibition in the Lobby of One Canada Square.

Best for a good night out

Longer days mean more time for parties and, with two years of lockdowns and restrictions, we want summer 2022 to be remembered for its party fun.

Get your carnival outfits ready as TabooXperience presents Queens of the Caribbean at The Troxy. As the first-ever all-female lineup to hit Notting Hill carnival, this concert at the end of August is a must-see, full of music, sass, and dance moves like no other. 

From Queens of the Caribbean to Queens of Bethnal Green, The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club holds cabaret nights that are oodles of fun. This historic club hosting a huge range of live music, comedy, burlesque and art performances.

Hackney Wick is the adult playground of East London and the beautiful canal-side venture that is Grow Hackney is a great place to kick off, or end, a night of partying. The Hackney Wick canal side bar is hosting many different night outs. There is live jazz jam sessions, funk and soul events, and carnival acts. With so many events to choose from, you won’t struggle finding something fun to do…

If all this music is making you want to dance, dance, dance, then get your jazz shoes on and head to the Eleanor Arms’ weekly jazz nights on every Sunday. Pub by day, Old Ford Jazz Club by night, the best musicians from the local jazz scene perform at The Eleanor every week. With free entry, and bands changing weekly, what is there not to love!

If you’re looking for something a little more chilled out, then Rich Mix might be the answer. It is showing all their movies and shows for just £7 a ticket over July and August. With so many new and exciting movies coming out, who can resist nights out at Rich Mix and all at such a bargain price.

The best places to day trip from the East End

A stream of water cuts through the salthous marshes in Norfolk, a traditional East End seaside holiday
Salthouse marshes near the sea, Norfolk

Day trip East End style! While foreign travel is back up and running this year, with all the delays at airports, train stations, and ports, take the opportunity to visit the English seaside destinations in search of sandy beaches, fresh fish n’ chips, and ice cream. You can check out our favourite East End daytrips here.

For all you foodies

The wonders of living in such a multicultural area so there is no need to get tired of the same old thing. From Caribbean, to Cockney, Turkish to Thai, you can travel the world without leaving the East End. 

Kicking things off East End style, we cannot wait to try out the brand new, traditional fish and chip opening on Old Ford Road this August. Chipping Wharf will serve hot and fresh classic British fish and chips. Eat in or take it away, and head to the park or stroll along the canal. 

Deep fried fish to raw fish, newly opened Ona’s Bento Sushi Bar serves traditional Japanese bento boxes that include assorted sashimi (a mixture of tuna, cuttlefish, and seabream), with vegetables, and rice. Its fish is sourced from the same suppliers who cater to upmarket West End restaurants… fancy! It also does happy hour deals with Japanese beers Asahi and Sapporo beers, and sparkling sake. Count us in!

On the other end of the culinary spectrum, Roman Road’s resident vegan deli, E3 Vegan hosts the UK’s first ever vegan fine dining supper club. Its next dates are Friday 5 August and Friday 19 August. Head on down to the delicious plant-based deli for a heartful, nutritious and social evening.

Summer might also be a great time to explore other cultures and cuisines. The Nunnery Café at Bow Arts is hosting a Kurdish and Persian Supper Club on the first Thursday in August. For just £25, or £18 for concessions, enjoy an evening of food, live entertainment and socialising, all while learning about Kurdish and Persian heritage. And Symposium is hosting its regular monthly supper club, this month on 19 August. Enjoy wine tasting with three different food pairings. Buon appetito!

And, finally, summer reads…

With all the raves to go to, exhibitions to see, walks to enjoy, and food to eat, there might be some days this summer where you just want to sit in a quiet spot and relax with a good book. 

Every week in our Tuesday newsletters, we are offering you a taster of four books we’ve read and reviewed.

The first in our summer reads is ‘This Way Out’ a funny and heartwarming story about Amar, a gay Bengali man who comes out to his family via Whatsapp. Not only that, but he tells them he is also getting married to his long-term boyfriend Joshua… the book follows the unravelling of this double bombshell. We interviewed the author, Tufayel Ahmed, on how his own life experiences informed his debut novel.

Next up is ‘Graves of Whitechapel’, a gripping historical mystery novel, set in the gritty urban landscape of the East End in 1882. There’s a murder, there’s love and there’s drama. 

Fast forward 70 years and we delve into an equally murky world, but this time it’s of the notorious Kray twins. Almost everyone in the East End will have heard the dark stories of Ronnie and Reggie Kray and their criminal undertakings. In ‘Vicious, Elegant Bastards’ Hyams explores the more human side of their history, such as the loyalty that bound the family together (although violence is never far), and separates East End truth from folklore.

To end our summer reads, we review ‘The Nature Seed’. Co-authored by Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park’s very own Ken Greenway and journalist Lucy Jones, the book explores the benefits of engaging with nature and practical tips for ways to do this with kids of all ages.

The Nature Seed by Lucy Jones and Kenneth Greenway

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