The summer social season in London is a whirl of wonderful al-fresco events and there’s no more delightful way to spend a summer soirée than watching an open-air concert – especially when staged in splendid surroundings. The 2015 calendar for June, July and August is packed with events hosted by iconic heritage sites such as Kew Gardens, Somerset House, Regent’s Park and Hampton Court Palace. The latter hosts its regular festival between 11th – 23rd June, and if you haven’t already booked tickets, there’s still time…
Don’t limit your trip to this majestic palace to evening time. You can make a day of it and spend some enjoyable daytime hours wandering the corridors of royal power and pleasure inside this wonderful tudor building. Built in 1514 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, it was seized by King Henry VIII when the Cardinal fell out of favour. It’s now one of only two surviving palaces of the many once owned by Henry. While you’re there be sure to visit England’s last and greatest medieval hall, The Chapel Royal and Henry’s enormous kitchens, which once fed over six hundred people twice daily. The gorgeous gardens also feature the celebrated maze, historic real tennis court and one of the world’s largest grape vines.
The concerts themselves take place in the stunning Tudor Courtyard and unlike many outdoor gigs, have ticketed seating, making for a very civilized and comfortable viewing experience. This year’s line-up is as diverse as ever and features household names from Jools Holland and Burt Bacharach to Paloma Faith and Peter André. If comedy rather than music floats your boat, catch The Impro Chums double-bill on 17th June, which couples the talents of Alan Davies and Paul Merton. The Fanfare and Fireworks night on 13th June featuring the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra is always incredible and has unfortunately already sold out this year, so remember to book early for next. To check out the programme and snag remaining seats visit www.hamptoncourtpalacefestival.com
One of the joys of attending this festival is the chance to picnic in the East Front Gardens before the concerts begin. Gates open at 5.30pm and the green lawns are dotted with an array of pop-up bars and speciality food stalls offering tasty tipples and treats. Many guests bring their own picnics, but for £80 -£100 you can pre-book the Festival or Champagne hampers which feature dishes such as chargrilled chicken and chorizo penne, giant couscous with chargrilled halloumi, and sun blushed tomato and ricotta tarts.
For a touch of luxury why not push the boat out with a riverside gazebo? You can enjoy your picnic whatever the weather, seated under canvas, around an elegant dining table, served by dedicated staff members. For an unforgettably stylish and exclusive night, choose the VIP experience. Starting at £275 a head, this package includes concert tickets with reserved front row or VIP area seating, merchandise, parking privileges, a champagne reception and a fine-dining experience within the grandeur of the State Apartments.
Eschew the usual grungy festival attire for this event. Remember, you’re walking in the footsteps of Kings and Queens! If you’re going VIP, choose a smart tailored look such as our Thornbury Navy Tonic 2-Button Slim Fit Suit. In early summer there’s still a chill in the air near sundown, so if you’re mixing and mingling at the waterfront go for smart separates with layers; a smart Casual Jacket perhaps paired nicely with a plain button-down shirt in a lighter shade perhaps? Some cool classic Cassidy Navy Chinos will always deliver. If you’re picnicking in the grounds, choose a smart pair of slim leg indigo jeans worn with one of our summer checks and a soft merino knit.
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