Top 5 Annual Events

Notting Hill Carnival

Every August Bank Holiday otherwise peaceful, pretty Notting Hill is pumped full of sounds, flavours, and people from the Afro-Caribbean community. It’s a celebration of culture and tradition and has been attracting Londoners for years on end. The food here is delicious and different, with jerk chicken and rice and peas being the order of the day. The music is rock and reggae and the dancing parade is as colourful as a rainbow on steroids. It’s spread over a two day period, devoting one day to children and the other to adults.

Image credit: Jamie Koster

The Boat Race

Two of the UK’s most prestigious university rowing teams, the dark blue Oxford versus the light blue Cambridge, take to the waters of the Thames each spring in ferocious competition. Thousands of people line the banks of the river to see the race in action, spilling out of riverside pubs and hanging over the edges of bridges that cross the stretch of race water. Since its conception in 1829 there has only been one dead heat, which happened nearly fifty years later in 1877. Otherwise, there was the memorable 2012 incident involving a protester swimming out into the path of the boats, causing severe disruption and an Oxford loss despite them being in the lead before the protester mucked it all up..

Image credit: Getty Images

The Marathon

Scheduled for a late April kick-off each year the Marathon, like the boat race, clogs the streets with thousands of spectators. For a 26 mile stretch of London, the world’s elite runners and charity fun-runners embark on an epic test of endurance. Expect to see the serious and the silly with last-gasp finishes on shattered legs, to ridiculous costumes where race times don’t matter; we’ve seen Puff the Asthma Dragon, a banana, Snow White and her seven dwarves, even Sonic the Hedgehog all have a go. Much to everyone’s surprise, Sonic has never claimed first place.

The Proms

A summer in London wouldn’t be complete without the Proms. Broadcast on the BBC and held in the Royal Albert Hall and other venues across London, the Proms showcase the best there is in world classic and orchestral music, culminating with The Last Night at the Proms in early September. The finale is traditionally British, exciting, and loud. The National Anthem and other hugely patriotic songs are played from the Royal Albert Hall. It never fails to attract the biggest television and live audiences. The orchestras themselves are huge and impressive, and help make up part of London’s annual soundtrack.

Image credit: BBC - Chris Christodoulou

The Chelsea Flower Show

Giving awards to the best city gardens, courtyard gardens, chic and show gardens; floral exhibitions, tree exhibitions, veggies, science and education, the Chelsea Flower Show encompasses all that is flora and fauna, nature and outdoors in the name of art. Chelsea itself is a beautiful and rich area of London, so it’s only fitting that such an event is held there. Like other major annual events in London, the Chelsea Flower Show is broadcast across the BBC, detailing presenter-led highlights for each and every day. The show itself invites the public, for a fee, to come and check out the competition and make purchases.

Image credit: Keith Laverack