It’s the start of summer 2014 in London. In June, why not celebrate by watching royal pageantry, getting excited at world's most famous tennis tournament, and even hanging out with big cats after hours.
1. Salute the Royal Marines at Beating Retreat
The Queen’s Guards, who stand like statues outside Buckingham Palace, come alive at the crowd-winning spectacle of Beating Retreat. This year marks Prince Philip’s birthday and the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines, and more than 400 military personnel are taking part in what will be the biggest event yet. It comes along with fireworks, cannons and bands. For more pomp and pageantry, witness Trooping The Colour (June 14), also on Horse Guards Parade. Buy tickets for Beating Retreat here.
2. Serving an Ace at Wimbledon Championships
Although most of the world's sporting eyes switch to Brazil this month for the World Cup, the world's most famous tennis tournament steals a lot of that attention, taking place at the hallowed turf at Wimbledon. This Grand Slam tournament, with the world's top players decked in all white, forms a quintessential part of an English summer together with its strawberries and cream and Pimms. Tickets are hard to come by (the ballot closed months ago) but you can find public areas in the city where live coverage takes place on big screens. Or, of course, you can try and queue up each morning where a limited number of tickets go on sale. The question on most Brits' lips this year will be this one: Can our own Andy Murray retain his men's singles title?
3. Summer Architectural Fest at Serpentine Pavilion
Previous years have seen Zaha Hadid, Ai Weiwei and Frank Gehry commissioned to create the Serpentine Gallery’s temporary pavilion (located at Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park), which starts on June 26 and stays up throughout the summer. Now it’s Chilean architect Smiljan Radic’s turn, and he has created a venue that looks as though it has landed from outer space, especially at night when it glows. Inside you can find a café and events space hosting the Park Night series, which includes poetry, music and film.
4. Splash out at the Art of Travel Auction
Leave London with a unique memento with a trip to a Christie’s auction. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, the auction house in St. James’s is one of the UK’s busiest salesrooms, attracting 200,000 visitors annually. This month, on June 18, you can take home a unique souvenir in the form of a vintage travel poster. The images celebrate the golden age of tourism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which was ushered in by the arrival of rail and planes. The Art Deco posters encouraged tourists to visit destinations such as the French Riviera and Australia’s Gold Coast. Bring along a strong nerve and a keen eye; prices start at £2,500.
5. Another Dazzling Show From Cirque Du Soleil
The world’s most famous circus troupe returns to London with Dralion, combining 3,000-year-old Chinese acrobatic tradition with the company’s multi-disciplinary approach to performance. The O2 is a big space to fill, but the cast of 50 performers, clowns, singers and musicians are up to the challenge, providing no end of ‘wow’ moments. Performances of Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion begin on June 7.
6. Talk To The Animals at ZSL Zoo Lates
Go wild in a different kind of urban jungle: ZSL London Zoo’s Lates, where every Friday (starting June 6) the zoo stays open late to provide entertainment for animals and humans alike. Guests can enjoy improvised comedy, cabaret, pop-up bars and delicious food as well as a ride on a carousel. Learn about the 175,000 creatures that call the zoo home, and take a look at the animals as they prepare to sleep – or wake up. Tickets also include entry into Tiger Territory, allowing you to get closer than ever to the beautiful stripy predators, plus other big cats.
7. Monty Python Turns to Opera With Terry Gilliam
The Monty Python legend Terry Gilliam made his opera debut in 2011 with The Damnation Of Faust at the English National Opera. That production impressed the opera world and his new project, a version of Benvenuto Cellini, Berlioz’s comedy about the Italian goldsmith whose exploits rivalled those of Casanova, will get people talking too. On stage at London Coliseum, expect Gilliam's anarchic style plus assured music from Edward Gardner. The performances begin on June 5.