From cinema to foodie delights, ten of the UK's best al fresco events you shouldn't miss this summer

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Deborah Cicurel
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The best summer events are al fresco.

Whether they're music festivals with wellies, tents and cold beers, foodie events where we can learn to cook culinary delights from the pros, or literary performances where we can see our favourite writers take to the stage, there's a special kind of appeal to being out in the open air.

Just grab a blanket (well, this is the UK after all) and get booking for summer 2016's most promising al fresco happenings...

  • Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall

    The hip Port Eliot Festival is the coolest way to spend an outdoorsy weekend in the UK. Even if you don't want to indulge in the multitude of cultural offerings, including comedy shows, fashion demonstrations, literary readings and art exhibitions, there's plenty to do. 

    You can go to the sprawling beaches of Whitsand Bay, take a surfing class, enjoy a foraging walk, take a canoeing lesson or indulge in some group stargazing. Dreamy.

    28 to 31 July. Book here.

  • Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham

    Nothing says summer quite like live jazz, a cold drink and a chilled atmosphere, which is probably why over 20,000 music fans flock to Cheltenham Jazz Festival every year.

    Artistically curated by Jamie Cullum, this year features the soulful voices of Lianne La Havas, Corinne Bailey Rae and Beverley Knight - as well as Cullum himself. 

    Plus, the festival site in Montpellier Gardens will offer a wide range of food and drink stalls, a festival bar and a stage with the country's best unsigned acts performing for free. 

    From 27 April to 2 May. Book here.

  • London in the Sky, London

    Taking the meaning of al fresco to whole new heights, London in the Sky offers brave diners the chance to eat in a pop-up restaurant suspended 25 metres from the ground. Returning to London this September for its third year, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail flights served up by some of London’s best-known chefs.

    The past few years have seen the vertiginous pop-up taking place between skyscrapers at Canary Wharf and overlooking the Thames on London’s Southbank - and while this year's venue has yet to be confirmed, we already know we want dinner in the sky. Just don't look down.

    This year's location and dates TBC. Book here.

  • Brighton's Big Screen, Brighton

    What could be better than lazing on the beach with a cold drink, the rush of the sea in your ears and a blockbuster in front of you on a giant screen? 

    The UK’s largest beachfront cinema, returning to Brighton this summer, will show three screenings a day, featuring everything from classics like Jaws and Dirty Dancing to recent hits like Mad Max: Fury Road and Spectre. Plus, if you're a football fan, you can watch Euro 2016 on the beach for free. Heaven.

    From 10 June to 10 July. Book here

  • Street Food & Craft Beer Festival, London

    Alexandra Palace’s Street Food & Craft Beer Festival returns this summer, with free entry, yummy street food and London's biggest beer garden sure to draw in the crowds. 

    Plus, if you're not into craft beer, Pimms and foodie treats (but why wouldn't you be?), there's live music, with various brass, jazz, folk, indie and party acts on call to make Ally Pally the place to be.

    Takes place during a run of weekends throughout the summer, starting from 28 May. Book here.

  • Latitude Festival, Suffolk

    If you want to go to a festival, but can't choose between music, comedy, theatre, dance, literature or film - head on over to Latitude Festival, which will see cultural performances of every kind taking place over one weekend in Suffolk.

    With musical performances from the likes The Maccabees and New Order, a theatrical production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and comedic words of wisdom from Russell Howard and Paul Merton, you won't be bored for a solitary second.

    From 14 to 17 July. Book here.

  • The Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shrewsbury

    With over 200 artisan food and drink producers all selling their wares in the calm of the countryside, the Shrewsbury Food Festival offers the perfect chance to escape the stress of the city and talk food, food, food for two days flat.

    With live music, a restaurant safari and expert cooking demonstrations to inspire any would-be chef, this is the best way to indulge the foodie dream for one glorious weekend - and all in the great outdoors.

    25 and 26 of June. Book here.

  • Abergavenny Food Festival, Wales

    Wales’s biggest food festival, this two-day eating extravaganza draws the gourmand crowds in with headline chefs including Tom Kerridge, Raymond Blanc, Gizzi Erskine, Yotam Ottolenghi and Theo Randall all taking to the stage last year to talk about their passion for food. This year's line-up has yet to be revealed, but with names like that, we're sure we won't be disappointed.

    Plus, the festival's atmospheric night market means you can enjoy the last of the summer outdoors while splashing out on goodies from street food traders, with everything from pizza and pies to crepes and tapas on the menu.

    17 and 18 September. Book here.

  • The Summer Sessions at Chiswick House & Gardens, London

    There's nothing quite like a beautiful setting to make a sunny afternoon even more perfect, and as well as their famous open air opera evenings, Chiswick House have now added classical, jazz and pop music to the repertoire. There's food stalls, hampers and of course, entry to the stunning gardens available too.  

    Plus, if you're more of a movie buff than a music fan, there's also an open air cinema this year, with Chiswick House's Luna Cinema showing The Great Gatsby, Spectre and Grease respectively on the 2, 3 and 4 August.

    15 June to 19 June. Book here.

  • Udderbelly Festival, London

    In what is now the eighth year of London's Udderbelly Festival, the likes of comedy, circus and poetry collide to form an eight week cultural extravaganza inside the South Bank's famous upside-down purple cow.

    Highlights include comedy from the likes of Milton Jones and Reginald D Hunter, witty words on feminism from Sarah Millican and Sara Cox, and breathtaking acrobatics from contemporary circus company Circa. Plus, there are musical performances, beatboxing shows for kids and anarchic poetry nights.

    From 7 April to 17 July. Book here

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Deborah Cicurel

Deborah Cicurel is a freelance journalist who writes about everything from lifestyle and travel to fashion and entertainment. She loves spicy maki rolls, cosy socks and visiting far-flung destinations, and is unable to walk past a dog on the street without stopping to befriend it.