Here's our handpicked guide to the best cultural hotspots in London! If you're a culture vulture looking to explore the vibrant West End, we've got you covered. Whether you're a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply someone eager to soak in the rich heritage of this iconic city, we've gathered the must-visit places for you this summer!
Explore the National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery reopened in June after a remarkable building transformation. With an incredible collection of 250,000 photographs and negatives spanning from the 1840s to today, it's a must-see destination for all art lovers.
Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm
Step into a time machine as you explore never-before-seen photos taken by Paul McCartney himself between December 1963 and February 1964. Witness the early days of The Beatles' rise to fame, from being a sensation in Britain to becoming a global phenomenon. Discover what it was like to be a 'Beatle' during the start of 'Beatlemania' and their journey from small UK stages to a historic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show for 73 million Americans.
Yevonde: Life and Colour
Get inspired by the fascinating story of a woman who found freedom through photography. Yevonde's portraits and still-life works spanning over sixty years will captivate you. This exhibition showcases the artist's experimental approach to photography and her trailblazing contribution to the world of portrait photography. Thanks to The CHANEL Culture Fund's support, this exhibition celebrates women in portraiture, enhancing their representation in the Gallery's Collection.
David Hockney Drawing from Life
Back by popular demand, the David Hockney: Drawing from Life exhibition returns after a temporary closure in March 2020 due to Covid. This five-star display features the work of the legendary artist David Hockney, known for his incredible drawing skills. Explore his intimate portraits of five different sitters, including his mother and himself, created using various mediums and styles like pencil, pen and ink, crayon, photographic collage, and even an iPad. Also, don't miss the debut of his latest portraits capturing friends and visitors to his studio in Normandy between 2020 and 2022.
Visit the National Portrait Gallery now and experience a whole new world of art and history!
The National Gallery
Discover The National Gallery in London, a famous art museum established in 1824 and located in Trafalgar Square since 1838. Here, you can explore over 2,300 stunning paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900, representing various Western European traditions.
Uncover works by legendary artists like Leonardo, Monet, Van Gogh, Turner, Rembrandt, and many more. You'll find iconic masterpieces such as Van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait, Velázquez's Rokeby Venus, Turner's Fighting Temeraire, and Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
If you're passionate about art and eager to refine your creative skills, check out the Sketchbook Saturday workshops. These sessions offer an opportunity to express your artistic flair and learn in a fun and supportive environment.
For a deeper dive into contemporary art, make sure to visit the thought-provoking exhibition 'Paula Rego: Crivelli's Garden.' This explores the connection between Dame Paula Rego's powerful paintings and a 15th-century altarpiece that served as her inspiration. The exhibition pays homage to her work and celebrates the strength of female figures depicted in her art.
But the excitement doesn't end there! Be part of Summer on the Square, a fantastic and free art festival taking place from 1st to 28th August 2023, right in the heart of Trafalgar Square. Brought to you by The National Gallery and Westminster City Council, this event promises to ignite your creativity.
Immerse yourself in a world of art and inspiration. With exciting creative sessions and activities for all ages and skill levels – no prior experience is needed.
Bring your friends, family, or come alone – Summer on the Square is a celebration of art and creativity that you won't want to miss!
Visit The National Gallery and explore art from different eras and styles!
The Royal Academy of Arts
Dive into art and enjoy free displays along with the long-awaited Summer Exhibition 2023 curated by renowned British painter David Remfry RA. Since 1769, the Summer Exhibition has been running every year. It is the world's largest open-submission contemporary art show. The Summer Exhibition provides a unique platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their works to an international audience. Exhibiting a collection of art forms including prints, paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architecture, and more.
After your art experience, unwind at the Poster Bar by Jose Pizarro. Every drink ordered comes with a complimentary pintxo, a delicious Basque speciality. Pintxos are small meals served on bread slices with toothpicks, and they are a beloved treat in Spain, particularly in the Basque region. Drop by the Poster Bar from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm to enjoy a complimentary pintxo with your drink. No reservations are needed!
The Royal Academy of Arts is a vibrant hub for art and creativity. Established in 1768 by King George III, it is managed by renowned artists and architects who have a deep passion for art. Throughout its history, the Royal Academy has played a key role in the art world. It has nurtured and supported artists, empowering them to reach their full potential. The institution supports emerging artists and recognises established artists known for their exceptional talent.
If you're looking for a delightful place to eat, head straight to Wiltons on Jermyn Street. London's oldest and most esteemed restaurant, serving up a taste of British tradition since 1742!
Experience the best of British cuisine at Wilton's. Enjoy fine dining classics with a special focus on seafood. Don't miss their mouthwatering oyster bar – a true treat for seafood enthusiasts!
From humble beginnings as an oyster market stall, Wiltons has evolved into a British bastion and exclusive dining gem. Situated on historic Jermyn Street, where notable figures like Sir Isaac Newton and William Gladstone have visited.
The interior of Wiltons will transport you to a bygone era, with its private gentlemen's club vibe featuring green velvet banquettes, pale golden walls, and cosy private booths. Marvel at the impressive art adorning the walls, showcasing the rich history of their establishment.
Head down to Wiltons for an amazing dining experience!
Art of London Season 2023: The Art of Entertainment
Art Reframed: Unveiled by Art of London in Partnership With The National Portrait Gallery
Prepare to be enchanted by 'Art Reframed,' an extraordinary public art installation presented by Art of London in collaboration with the recently re-opened National Portrait Gallery. Delve into the vibrant and captivating world of art in London as you witness over 50 giant, colourful cubes adorning the skies of Leicester Square, creating an immersive experience.
Kicking off the summer season, actor and art enthusiast, Russell Tovey, revealed this incredible installation, showcasing the National Portrait Gallery's most celebrated portraits.
Among these iconic figures from the world of film, literature, and music are faces such as William Shakespeare, Ira Aldridge, Noel Coward, Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Saoirse Ronan, Elton John, Dusty Springfield, Millicent Small, and Kate Bush.
The heart of London's West End has been transformed into an enormous canvas for public art, with 'Art Reframed' taking centre stage. Allow yourself to be immersed in the beauty of these elevated portraits, gracefully hanging over Irving Street and Coventry Street from July to October, adding an artistic charm to London's vibrant entertainment district.
As you explore these larger-than-life portraits, don't forget to seek out Russell Tovey's own portrait, displayed inside the National Portrait Gallery. This unique opportunity allows you to experience the magic of art and culture while strolling through the very heart of London.
Rana Begum's No.1273 Flag
Experience the stunning No.1273 Flags by artist Rana Begum, from 30th May to 20th August 2023.
Inspired by the theme 'The Art of Entertainment' for 2023, Rana Begum crafted extraordinary flags boasting intricate geometric patterns, celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures in our city. As a distinguished Royal Academician, her meticulously tiled mosaic designs symbolise unity and the diversity that makes London so special.
Rana Begum's mastery of minimalist abstraction captures the city's vibrant spirit, especially in the iconic West End. Now, her stunning artwork spills onto the streets of Piccadilly, bringing a burst of colour and life to this iconic area.
Immerse yourself in No.1273 Flag as you walk the streets of Piccadilly. Let the colours and patterns surround you, offering a vibrant display of art and culture. Whether you're an art enthusiast or simply seeking to soak in London's cultural offerings, don't miss this mesmerising public art installation.
Head to Piccadilly and let the flags take you on a journey of creativity and inspiration.