‘Freedom Day’ has arrived and the weather is warming up, which means one thing – summer is here at last! Read on for our definitive guide to getting the most out of our neighbourhood this holiday.
This summer we have all felt our worlds expand. As restrictions are lifted and the weather grows warmer, we emerge from our homes, blinking in the sunlight, moving freely through the neighbourhood we’re so lucky to call home.
If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that our local area has everything we could possibly need for a good time. Whether you’re after food, live music or hikes into the wilderness, there’s something for everyone nearby.
Best music events this summer
Whether or not you have tickets, the All Points East weekend (27th to 30th August) will be a high point of our the summer. As the festival sets up in Victoria Park, expect our area to take on the lively atmosphere of a carnival. Since arriving in 2018, All Points East has become one of London’s most-loved music festivals.
And that’s not all – we’re also getting excited about East London’s Little Festival, a twelve-hour open-air festival at a secret location on August 1st. With a great line-up and lots of food options, it’s a brilliant way to see in high summer.
And if you fancy a free concert, the Victoria Park bandstand is hosting a whole range of live music events every Sunday in July. A good option for families with younger children, these concerts attract people, many bringing picnics, from all over the borough – so head this way for a slice of community life.
There are too many exciting things to mention here – it’s worth checking out our events listings for more!
Inspiring walks around the neighbourhood
Post-covid, it probably feels like you’ve tried every local walk in existence. But we’ve got one you might not have heard of!
The Great Eastern Parks route is a brand-new circuit connecting all the parks, canals and rivers of East London. It’s blissful to escape the distraction of urban life and find peace and quiet among the trees. We might not be in the countryside but we still have our fair share of challenging walks! It can take a while to complete the full route, so we recommend making a day of it, enjoying the adventure with a picnic and intrepid kids or dogs.
The Line art walk is another favourite, drawing us away from busy roads towards quiet towpaths and walkways. This summer, The Line launched the Madge Gill installation at five different sites across Newham, ideal for long catch-up with your fellow art-loving friend. And if you don’t want to travel too far afield, we recommend going on a hunt for the best street art around Roman Road.
Long lazy drinks in cool outdoor spaces
One habit we’re keen to keep after lockdown is outdoor drinking – it’s turned our neighbourhood into something altogether more continental.
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.
If you haven’t been to Chiringuito yet… what are you doing? This is one of those places that should definitely be on your radar. Right beside the Bethnal Green tube stop, it’s a great place to meet friends coming in to this part of town. The rooftop gives you great views of Bethnal Green Gardens (if you can snag a spot that is!).
The Camel is an unexpected front-runner thanks to the cuteness of its courtyard at the back (who knew?). There are also generous benches sitting on the wide paving area of Sugar Loaf Walk on what is a very quiet stretch of road. Debbie, the landlady, is a local favourite, hosting great beer tasting evenings and party nights. And there are the pies too.
And of course the Palm Tree’s 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 – just grab your pint and plot up.
Check out our other best pubs for outdoor drinks here.
Summer special offers
After a year like this, it’s time to catch up on a few treats. We’ve partnered with some of our favourite local shops to make this affordable for you too!
Get some delectable deli treats from Symposium, the Italian restaurant, wine bar and deli near Gina’s Closet, and plan a decadent picnic in the park. They are offering Roman Road LDN readers 10% off purchases until the end of July.
Time for some serious beauty pampering?. Nuova Beauty (the pink one near Cafe East), and in July they’re also giving any new customers a 10% discount in their first treatment. The Liquid Parlour (near Dennington’s Florist) is also offering 10% discount for new customers until the end of July. So get booking!
Or get rhythmic at the Hackney Wick Drum Studio, which has a taught hundreds of students to drum since opening in 2018. New students will get 20% off lessons until the end of July.
One thing we do well on the Roman is the local cafe. There’s a new one in Globe Town run by friendly Turkish outfit – Big Beans. They do the best doughnuts. Happily they’re also offering a 15% discount for NHS, Met Police and London Fire Brigade, workers.
If you read one book….
This summer we’re reading Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves. This book, based on the neighbourhood we know and love, tells the story of twelve East Enders over the course of a single year. Join us in enjoying this neatly woven tale of resilience, love and loss.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut that reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
Best for a good night out
Freedom Day means the reopening of most bars and clubs, while the scrapping of social distancing measures in lots of venues signals that dance is back, baby.
The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club holds cabaret nights that are oodles of fun. These performances were once a weekly fixture in Bethnal Green but because of the pandemic, we’ve had to endure an eighteen-month hiatus in the fun. Their shows have been sorely missed, and it’s worth joining them once social distancing measures are scrapped for a return to the bacchanalian soirees of old.
Another firm favourite is Grow, the ramshackle canalside artist’s haven in Hackney Wick. It’s a great time to visit because the space has recently welcomed back live music. We love heading in their direction for some live jazz from Stratos, the house band.
We’re hoping The Eleanor Arms’ legendary jazz nights are going to make a comeback soon. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground and as soon as there’s an update we’ll let you know.
If you’re looking for late-night, alcohol-free fun, visit Sweet Talkers, the newly-arrived dessert parlour at the top of Roman Road. Open ‘till midnight, it’s a sweet spot to meet a friend over an ice cream sundae if the pub’s not your scene.
If you’re into screenings, St Margaret’s House’s short film and live music night is worth checking out in mid-August. With Stratford’s rooftop cinema club just down the road, our area’s a great place for cinema-lovers. Based at the top of a Stratford carpark, expect stunning views of the cityscape, moody sunsets, and all the old classics, along with some new releases.
The best places to day trip from the East End
This is the year to day trip East End style! Luckily for those of us in the East End, our part of town has an intimate connection with England’s east coast. We love heading out of London in the direction of Kent, Essex or Norfolk in search of sandy beaches, fresh fish n’ chips and ice cream. With foreign travel likely off the cards this year, take the opportunity to visit the English seaside destinations you would normally overlook. You can check out our favourite East End daytrips here.
Things to do with kids
Six long weeks of holiday stretch out before us, but luckily our neighbourhood’s got loads of great options to keep the kids from getting bored. There’s something for every age group nearby, with options for babies as well as older teenagers.
Animo Yoga, based at the market-end of Roman Road, runs some soothing mum and baby yoga sessions (there are mum-and-toddler slots too!). If you’re new to the area, or just want to make friends with some local mums, this is a good way to spend your mornings.
St Paul’s Way Trust is also running Mini Athletics sessions over the summer month. These sessions are both structured and fun, designed specifically with little ones aged two to seven in mind. They’re geared towards teaching kids a range of athletics skills and encouraging teamwork. Running between 9.15 and 12 noon on weekends, we recommend dropping the kids off and doing some retail therapy. Roman Road LDN readers can enjoy 20% off these sessions with the code STPAULS20.
Another thing we’ve got our eyes on is the Music Summer School at Grand Union Orchestra for young people aged 12-21. These sessions are a chance for students to experiment and explore, learning to play by ear and improvise, discovering music traditions from across the world.
There is also the Art on the Water festival in late July, a fun-filled day of art activities on board the St Columbia, a boat moored near the Here East complex. Kids will have a go at storytelling, making origami boats, mono-printing mini books and making collages among other things. And all for £5!
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