We know that everyone’s had quite a lot of time to explore London’s parks and outdoor spaces, but they’re still providing ample entertainment. In fact, things have even stepped up a notch. Get ready for magnificent art installations, celebrity collabs and a lovely day out among exotic plants.

The Rain Forest at The Barbican Conservatory

Inside the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican is the second biggest conservatory in London, after Kew Gardens‘ Princess of Wales Conservatory. And the best bit? It houses a rainforest. Free to see, this verdant paradise is opening very soon.

They have everything from palm trees to banana plants and you can take a guided tour of the conservatory to learn more about the different species. There are a few creatures in here too – koi carp in the fishponds and some terrapins (also known as ‘the terrorpins’), who were relocated to Barbican Conservatory after wreaking havoc on Hampstead Heath. There’s also a cactus house and beehives, all of which you can see for free, you just need to book online in advance on the website.

When: From 17 May
Where: Level 3, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
Price: Free
Website: www.barbican.org.uk

‘Bring Into Being’ at Chiswick House & Gardens

Over at the glorious Chiswick House and Gardens, three new artworks are on display by contemporary conceptual sound artist Peter Adjaye, artist Jaimini Patel and British artist Mark Wallinger. The pieces are a reaction to the global pandemic, questioning self-reflection and reconnection with nature, as well as the role Chiswick House can play in supporting the emergence of new futures… they also just look really pretty.

Bring Into Being draws on the history, design legacy and current status of Chiswick House and recognises the impact of these ideas on shaping society. As part of this exploration, a range of artists, musicians, scientists and students have been asked to reimagine the future here through art, workshops and events.

Jaimini Patel’s artwork ‘Detail from Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter‘ was created from discarded organic materials from the gardens and invites reflection on temporality and transformation. Mark Wallinger’s artwork, presented in the Exedra behind the house, is a poignant reflection on time that brings together fleeting moments with the daily and yearly cycles of the earth. While Peter Adjaye’s three-part audio artwork, created with musicians of South Asian and West African heritage, responds to diverse stories hidden in plain sight at Britain’s historic buildings and places.  Be ready for your mind to boggle as you embrace these sounds, artworks and experiences.

When: 27 May – 31 October 2021
Where: Burlington Lane, Chiswick, W4 2RP
Website: www.chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Detail from Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter, 2021 by Jaimini Patel
Rekha Sawhney records with Peter Adjaye in the Green Velvet Room

Magical Movie Soundtracks at Syon Park

Syon Park is simply stunning. From the beautifully landscaped gardens to the awesome Great Conservatory, there’s plenty to keep you busy. However, Syon has stepped up its game this summer, offering a magical candlelight concert featuring your favourite film scores.

The concert will be taking place inside the Great Conservatory and will be transformed with hundreds of flickering candles. And guess what? It’s Disney tunes galore! Music from Moana, The Lion King, Frozen, Harry Potter, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin will be brought to life by a string quartet and fill the space with magical moments.

There will be two concerts per night – one at 7pm and one at 9pm. Candlelight, Disney, a private London estate? What more could you want?

When: 24 June – 6 July
Where: Syon Park, Brentford, TW8 8JF
Website: www.feverup.com

Designed by Andrew Parker 2017 © Lifescaped
Composition of Sunlight. Andrew Parker, acrylic on canvas, 2020. © Lifescaped

‘Naturally Brilliant Colour’ at Kew Gardens

It’s only next week… 17 May means we can finally enjoy indoor exhibitions! So why not mark the occasion with  a visit Kew Garden’s ‘Naturally Brilliant Colour’ exhibition.

Fully immerse yourself in some seriously kaleidoscopic patterns, created in a lab by Lifescaped using the same methods that naturally give some living organisms, such as  butterflies and hummingbirds, their vibrant colours. The way these microscopic patterns reflect sunlight is what makes them the brightest colours around.

Not only can you enjoy a trippy journey of colours but you can also learn about the science behind vision and colour, dating back over 500 million years. Access to the exhibition will be included in the price of entry to the gardens, so you get nature and art all in a oner. Lucky you.

When: 17 May – 26 September 
Where: Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
Website: www.kew.org

Pergola on the Wharf at Crossrail Place Roof Garden

You might think that Canary Wharf only has tall high-rises and crowds of bankers, but you’d be wrong. In the heart of this financial hub is Crossrail Place Roof Garden. In this oasis of calm you will find exotic plants, spices, banana trees and bamboo as well as a cute little street food market.

The plants hail from all over the world and there are some neat little maps telling you all about the history and provenance of each shrub. The garden is divided into hemispheres, with east and west represented on different sides with different plants such as Australasian ferns and American sweetgums. Pergola on the Wharf is taking over the garden with seasonal cooking and three bars, so you can while away your days in the sun and pretend you’re a traveller to new lands.

When: From 28 May
Where: Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB
Website: www.pergolacanarywharf.co.uk

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