August in Edinburgh is all about the Fringe. If you can’t make it up north, use it as an opportunity to experience some of London’s best cultural happenings. Save the pre-theatre rush and try out these places for a night consisting of more than just dinner and drinks; comedy, cabaret and live music, London has it all.
What: London's Very Own Fringe Festival
Why: Save yourself the six-hour slog on a train to Edinburgh and make the most of London’s very own Fringe in Oxford Circus. Phoenix Fringe is back for its third year, offering ballsy new comedians the change to get up on stage. Previous big names to take to the mic include Al Murray, Ed Byrne and Katherine Ryan, with this year’s line up featuring Josie Long and Andrew Maxwell. The festival is on until 13th August so snap up tickets while you can.
Where: The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, Oxford Circus, W1G 0PP
What: Comedy and Cabaret
Why: Don’t let the name ‘theatre’ trick you, Soho Theatre is home to some of London’s most talented comedians and cabaret performers, all under one roof. You’ll find a line up of innovative new shows alongside world class performers so there is something for you, no matter how culturally curious you may be. Keep an eye out for John Richardson, Frankie Boyle and Michael MacIntyre testing out new material before they head off on nationwide tours.
Where: 21 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3NE
The Piano Works
What: Authentic Piano Bar with a Prohibition Vibe
Why: Stylish, atmospheric and, above all, sassy, Piano Works is so good you won’t want to leave. Amazingly, the music literally doesn’t stop, not once – each song merges into the next, creating a non-stop party atmosphere. And best of all, the tireless house musicians take requests, so you can enjoy your dinner with your favourite songs played live in front of you or come a bit later for a seriously energetic and feel-good night.
Where: 113-117 Farringdon Road, corner of Ray St Farringdon, London, EC1R 3BX
Proud Cabaret City
What: Burlesque and Beats
Why: London’s finest tribute to the Roaring ’20s, Proud Cabaret City serves you a dazzling Jazz Age menu, Prohibition-themed cocktails with real bite, and breathtaking burlesque. It’s this attention to detail which makes Proud Cabaret City so much more immersive than other flapper-era hangouts – so if you love swing, make sure you visit.
Where: 1 Mark Lane, City of London, EC3R 7AH
What: Lively Blues Venue with Big-Hitting American Food
Why: Love jazz, soul and blues music? Partial to a bit of authentic U.S. barbecue? This is the place for you. Tuck in to heaving platters of cracking ribs, juicy pulled pork and succulent brisket, while being serenaded by some of the finest jazz bands in the country with specific nights including Swing Night and the brilliantly titled Honky Tonk Stomp. Check out the other venues in Camden and Shoreditch for a night of Blues wherever in London you may be.
Where: 40 Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 5SP
The London Cabaret Club
What: Best of British Pop Cabaret Show
Why: The London Cabaret Club relaunched earlier this year with a glitzy party and brand new line-up titled Best of British Pop. A great alternative night out, guests are seated around the central stage for a full on night of dancing, gymnastics and British pop songs through the decades begging to be sung along to. Taking to the stage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, round up a group of friends and make a night of it with British-inspired tapas and lots of Champagne.
Where: Bloomsbury Ballroom
What: Glamorous Restaurant with On-Stage Performers
Why: One of London’s most infamous diners since opening in the 1920s, Quaglino’s has seen more than its fair share of big nights over the years. A true favourite of the gentry and the famous, the Queen became the first reigning monarch to eat in a public restaurant when she dined here in 1956. It’s not hard to see why. Not only does it serve top-notch food – try their brunch with some bottomless bubbles, it’s to die for – but there’s live entertainment, too. A glittering stage dominates the basement, featuring DJs and live bands all through the day and night and for August it has been transformed into a prohibition-style gin joint complete with cocktail masterclasses and burlesque shows.
Where: 16 Bury Street, London, SW1Y 6AJ
What: London Jazz Band Travels to Edinburgh
Why: And finally… If you are travelling to Edinburgh for the festivities, check out London’s very own Kansas Smitty’s. The house band of the Hackney bar of the same name will be up north for the whole month with jazz raves, a diner and more Jim Beam juleps than you can shake a stick at. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout August.
Where: The Biscuit Factory (Venue 173), 4-6 Anderson Place, Edinburgh, EH6 5NP