Summer Fun: Off Beat Days in the UK

Martina O'BoyleLive Music, Miscellaneous, MoviesLeave a Comment

Best of the Beast

beerfestOnce the sun comes out in London, the good people of the city become adept at two things – securing an all-afternoon spot outside the local pub for the purpose of getting summer drunk, and pretending to like Andy Murray. However, as the UK tennis season is only a month long ,and the neighbourhood boozer gets a bit dull after a while, those in the know seek out more diverse summer pastimes.

Go Al Bundy at the Movies

Late June kicked off Pillow Cinema – billed as London’s comfiest cinema experience . From the people that brought Europe Hot Tub Cinema, the idea is blissfully simple — watch the sun go down on a rooftop in fashionable Shoreditch while cracking into your BYOB supply, and then cozying up with a friend old or new on a giant beanbag. PC_AlFresco_Logo_BW_Small Forget propping your sneakers up on the back of the chair in front of you, Pillow Cinema encourages full lounging on “fatboys” sized for two. As your buzz settles in, you get either a classic movie, a documentary or if you’re lucky a crowd pleaser like Clueless or Ferris Bueller’s  Day Off. Imagine a cool evening of cinema smart-arsery with no posture, no bar-tab, no jacket required. Reservations are, however. These evenings sell out quickly. Details at


Aim for the Guitar Case

The heat brings out street music everywhere, and it all becomes official on Saturday, the 18th of July on the first ever National Busking Day. Busking, is, of course, singing for your supper. Street musicians with guitars, portable keyboards, accordions, sometimes pet dogs singing backup, have cases open and if full, (can) make a living in the UK, I’ve been told. This is quite an organized thing here – railways and tube stations have designated areas – pitches – in the pedestrian areas that are assigned to, and coveted by, struggling musicians of all ages.

On the 18th, up and down the country, iconic locations like London’s Trafalgar Square, and Castle Street Edinburgh, as well as city spots in Leeds, Glasgow, Norwich and towns, and parks and rail stations across the UK will be full of music and street performance.

Edinburgh Council’s Culture honcho Richard Lewis says:”Edinburgh’s buskers and street performers are vital to the buzzing outdoor atmosphere… I look forward to hearing locals and visitors to Edinburgh make music in the city’s streets,” while London’s Mayor Boris Johnson is hoping “this initiative will encourage all cities around the UK to value our fantastic street performers even more.’ (Just a thought: what are the odds next day newspapers will feature a photo of Boris doing something interactive and very embarrassing.)  National Busking Day 


Old Skool Grits

You do get a variety of musical styles from buskers, with perhaps a little too much reliance on Van Morrison and the Beatles – especially where foreign tourists congregate. Hip Hop is not as common, so this summer to get your fix, pretend you’re in the ATL and head to Hip Hop Brunch LDN. It’s not a restaurant, it is an event, with a few dates left for the summer. The locations are secret until just before the weekend, but their website and their minions will sort you out in enough time to organise your way there and back (think: taxi). Be assured, the locations will continue to be very un-crunk. As brunch is not the most British of meals, these guys throw tradition to the wind and go all the way, working  in beats and karaoke, a “three-course Dirty South’ Lunch menu”, Notorious B.I.G in the background, and lots of cocktails. Pour one out for any homie who misses this.




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Martina O'BoyleSummer Fun: Off Beat Days in the UK