From theatre in the vaults to rooftop garden cocktails, our pick of the capital’s most exciting pop-ups this summer

Posted by
Amy Swales

The arrival of summertime in London is heralded by many things. Sunshine, if we're lucky. Rain, if we're not. The dusting off of any rooftop bar knowledge around 5pm each day. The streets outside pubs jamming up an hour later. Buses transforming overnight from a tolerable form of public transport to unbearable heat cages of sticky animosity. And these days, pop-up bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

The number of places in which to make the most of the light evenings and (hopefully) balmy temperatures increases every year, taking over outdoor spaces and disused buildings, stringing their fairy lights and parking their food trucks. And while it's wonderful to have so many options, sorting the wheat from the chaff is sometimes difficult. What's a hidden gem of summer delight and what's a fiver to stand in a car park with a substandard burger?

That's why we've put together our pick of the pop-ups just for you, 15 temporary treats in the capital to while away these long evenings. Drinks, dancing and dinner, food, films and falling down rabbit holes. Go on, you deserve it.

Words: Amy Swales

  • The Magic Roundabout

    The man behind Burger Bear had a dream. And that dream was burgers, discos and good times. On a... roundabout? Tom Reany has pulled together great food (seafood purveyors Prawnography join the fun), booze (bar Relax serves beer and cocktails) and disco tunes (from live DJs) in a 500-capacity venue on Old Street roundabout. Brings an entirely new meaning to playing in traffic.

    Open daily, lunchtime until 11pm, at Old Street Roundabout, London EC1Y 1BE

    Free entry, visit

  • Grain Store Unleashed

    This pop-up from Michelin-starred chef Bruno Loubet showcases the best the world of vegetables has to offer, and the results are beautiful. Breakfast and lunch is ever-changing a la carte, while dinner offers three tasting menus of four, six and eight courses costing £28.50, £34.50 and £39 respectively - pretty reasonable for a big name in the capital. Only filling the gap before a permanent replacement for Bistro Bruno Loubet comes in, you better be quick to bag a place here.

    Open until 31st July at The Zetter Hotel, St John's Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5RJ


  • Wonderland

    Make like Alice and throw yourself down this particular rabbit hole for a theatrical evening under the capital. Alice's Adventures Underground has taken over the vaults for an impressive, immersive show, and now the bar is open to the public as well as those watching the production. Expect installations (a maze and croquet anyone?) DJs, live bands and cocktails from Bourne & Hollingsworth. 

    Open until the end of August at The Vaults, Launcelot Street, SE1 7AD

    Free entry to the bar, visit for information

  • Alcoholic Architecture

    No need to fuss with time-consuming glasses and straws and mouths and other outdated drinking equipment when you can walk into a cocktail cloud and absorb it. Sounds weird, and it is: Alcoholic Architecture from culinary wizards Bompas & Parr have created a boozy fog from spirits and mixers that enters the bloodstream via your lungs and eyeballs (yes, you heard). Our kind of weather.

    Opens 31st July, One Cathedral Street, Borough Market, SE1 9DE

    Hour-long time slots cost between £10 and £12.50 per person, starting at 12pm.


  • Carom Spice Garden

    Following a fire on Wardour Street, Carom has temporarily relocated from its Soho location to Butlers Wharf - partnering with Butlers Wharf Chop house - giving those south of the river a chance to experience an 'Indian Spice Garden' on a quayside deck. An opportunity to try signature pan-Indian dishes and spiced cocktails accompanied by a quintessentially London view.

    Open until the end of September (12pm-10pm) at Butlers Wharf Chop House, 36E Shad Thames, SE1 2YE

    Call 020 7314 4002 or email

  • After School Club

    This 70's after school special in Hackney from pop-up experts The Art of Dining promises school dinner as you've never known it. Five courses of fine dining inspired by the likes of packed lunches and spotted dick should banish any bad memories, while diners are also promised a huge array of little touches to the evening, including pencil cases, homework, milk bottle cocktails and a strict headmistress running the show. Better tuck your shirt in.

    Runs from 22nd July to 5th August at The Old School Rooms, Round Chapel, Clapton, E5 0PU

    Tickets £55 each, visit

  • Midnight Apothecary

    Campfires, flowers, sunsets, Greek food. The Brunel Museum rooftop garden is already sounding pretty appealing, and that's before you factor in Wild Cocktails using ingredients grown in the garden itself and foraged locally by a Cocktail Gardener (aka Lottie Muir). A job we would like also, please. Oh, and you can descend underground into the Brunel Tunnel Grand Entrance Hall for a guided tour should you so wish. Truly a city escape.

    Open Saturdays until the end of September (5.30pm-11pm, last orders 10pm) at Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, SE16 4LF

    Tickets £5 each, visit

  • Rooftop Film Club

    The ever-popular RFC has returned. Catch a film on a big screen while sitting on a deckchair under a blanket on top of a London building. The four venues are The Bussey Building in Peckham, Roof East in Stratford, The Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch and The Roof Gardens in Kensington. Showing both classics (like the Goonies and Top Gun) and newer films (Wild, Birdman, Amy), you have no excuse.

    Various dates until the end of August

    Tickets from £14, for info, booking and locations, visit

  • Cocktails in the City - Summer Edition

    A range of established London hotspots, exciting newcomers and well-known drinks brands converge on Bedford Square for two days of al fresco cocktail fun. In fact, there'll be 25 bars to choose your poison from offering tastings, mixologist masterclasses and a variety of free talks. Street food, DJs and live music also feature. Just a few of the huge list of names taking part are Harvey Nichols, London Cocktail Club, Hawksmoor, Mr Fogg's, Barrio and Fu Manchu, and all in one place. The only cab you'll need is the one home. Be quick though - it's only on for  one weekend.

    18th and 19th July (12pm-8pm) at Bedford Square, WC1B 3ES

    Tickets are £15, including one cocktail, complimentary experiences and cocktail booklet. Visit

  • Street Feast Model Market

    This used to be an abandoned indoor and outdoor market, before Street Feast moved in and filled it with food and drink. No longer does one need to be in Dalston to enjoy late night gluttony. Following last year's success, the event returns to Lewisham with tonnes of good food, but also plenty to wash your dinner down with in the form of five bars serving ale, cocktails and wine. Plus there's dancing to be had.

    Every Friday and Saturday until 3rd October (5pm to 1am), 196 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, SE13 6LS

    Free before 7pm, £3 after. Visit

  • brünch

    Offering brunch "the Berlin way", brünch is a roaming pop-up, meaning it's in a new venue every time. Created by food-loving Berliner Noemie Dulischewski, it is always on a Sunday and there are two sittings for those who can't face 11.30am after Saturday night. You'll dine on a generous menu created from local ingredients with a German vibe - think cold meats and cheeses, smoked mackerel pate and Berlin-style 'eggs in a glass'. The next one is in Bermondsey on 26th July, under Victorian railway arches, but don't worry if you miss it - they run regularly (the one after that is 16th August).

    26th July (11.30am or 2.30pm), 41 Maltby Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3PA. Check website for further dates

    £23 per person excluding drinks, visit


  • The Beach Hut at York & Albany

    A beach theme might not be the most novel idea for a summer pop up, but when it involves real sand, Seaweed Cocktails served in buckets and Pimm's ice lollies, who are we to argue? The restaurant will be serving a selection of seaside treats (or serve yourself at the DIY ice-cream machine) or there's a BBQ menu for bigger platefuls. And everyone gets a stick of rock, naturally.

    Runs until end of August at York & Albany, 127-129 Parkway, Camden NW1 7PS

    From £30 per person, including two cocktails each and a selection of snacks. Beach BBQ menu is an extra £25 per person. Call 020 7592 1226 or visit

  • The Owls Are Not What They Seem

    Fan of bizarre early 90's show Twin Peaks? Can't wait until its much-touted return to TV sometime in 2017? Now you can sate your appetite for the weird and wonderful with this pop-up restaurant from events specialists Lemonade and Laughing Gas and Blanch & Shock offering an immersive experience inspired by the offbeat show. Expect three courses, secret missions and a damn fine cup of coffee during an entire evening of Lynch oddities.

    Runs 27th August to 17th October at a secret London location

    Tickets £65 each (£50 preview), on sale July 17th. Register your interest at

  • BLOOM Gin Rooftop Garden Bar at Vista

    If gin and/or glorious London views are your thing, then this is the pop-up for you. BLOOM Gin has put together four cocktails for this garden-themed area in the Vista bar on the rooftop of the Trafalgar Hotel, including the elderflower Summer Cooler, the self-explanatory Blackberry Bellini and the citrusy BLOOM Lady. We like the sound of the BLOOM Spring Stroll - mixing gin with Pimms. Summery.

    Open until the end of September at 2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS 

    Tables can be booked before 5pm (after 5pm, tables can only be booked for six or more people). Cover charges apply. Call 020 7870 2900 or visit

  • Summer Tales

    Background Bars, behind the popular Night Tales, have brought out a summer edition. There's way too much going on to list, but just a few main points include a 20m terrace, hammocks and swing chairs, five concept bars, a dance floor, a seemingly never-ending list of DJs and mountains of food (Burger & Lobster and Pizza Pilgrims among others). A ready-made summer night out.

    Until 29th August (Thursdays 6pm-11.30pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6pm-midnight) at Redmarket, 288 Old Street, Shoreditch, London EC1V 9DP

    Free entry on Thursdays (prior registration required), £5 Fridays and Saturdays. Book at

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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