London in summer is the best. People stand on pavements sipping on cooling beers and cold Negroni’s, laughing away in the heat.

But the best thing of all? London festivals. There are so many to pick from. Choosing your favourite is like choosing your favourite child – it’s hard but deep down you secretly know. One of our favourites is the Carnaby Summer Festival.

Yup, that’s right, Carnaby is a go-to destination for us Londoners and it has its own festival. It will run from 8 to 21 August, with a line-up of free live music, giveaways, interactive workshops that you can sign up to for free and loads of mouth-watering promotions. Here are our top picks:

1. Dance to salsa beats

One of Europe’s finest salsa big bands is taking to the stage, so your hips better be ready. The band is led by percussion supremo Wilmer Sifonte from Venezuela to give you your Latino fix. They cover classics from legends such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Ray Barreto – and if you’re not familiar with any of those, there’s definitely enough rhythm to get you dancing.

If blues and 50s rock n’ roll is more your thing, then Sister Suzie and The Right Band will definitely be up your (Carnaby) street. The five-piece band that will offer you a blast from the past with songs inspired by the likes of Irma Thomas, Big Mama Thornton and Elmore James.

When: Thursday 11 August, 6pm-9pm
Where: Ganton Street

2. Enjoy serious soul with Salut Band

This award-winning Funk, RnB and Soul show band is going to have your arms waving in the air and your feet tapping in no time. The line-up is big – there’s a singer, bass guitar, electric guitar, drums, keys, a saxophone and a trumpet. What’s more, they’ve got a history of impressing, having performed at international festivals and supported global superstars with serious smash hits.

When: Thursday 18 August, 6pm-9pm
Where: Ganton Street

3. Make your own kokedama

Claim some free tickets to make your own kokedama. No idea what a kokedama is? Neither did we, until just now. But as plant lovers, we’re totally in. You will have the chance to create two gorgeous green moss balls filled with houseplants and take them home to brighten up your living room.

When: Tuesday 9 August, 1-2pm
Register here:

4. Do some pottery painting

Doing crafts really sets the mind at ease and nothing more so than a spot of pottery painting. Carnaby Summer Festival is giving people the chance to get free tickets for some first-class pottery painting. Simple enter via the link below and spend the afternoon painting some ceramic to take home with you at the end.

When: Wednesday 10 August, 1-2.30pm
Register here:

5. Try candle making

At home, hot wax and test tubes might spell disaster. But under great tutelage at Carnaby Summer Festival it’s strangely relaxing. Create your own candle to take home with you using cruelty-free, locally sourced and eco-friendly materials. You’ll be calling yourself Jo Malone in no time.

When: Tuesday 16 August, 1 – 2pm
Register here:

6. Pick up a pencil at life drawing

Bring along all the family to this event that sees everyone try to draw out their creative side – quite literally. Pick up a pencil and be guided through a drawing class. You’ll be surprised what artistic talent you have inside – so just register in the link below for a chance to grab a spot for you and a plus one. 

When: Wednesday 17 August, 1-2.30pm
Register here:

7. Win a giveaway

Throughout the two weeks of Carnaby Summer Festival, there will be a whole series of free presents being handed out to lucky visitors. Yes, you heard right. Free presents. It’s like Christmas come early. You might be in for a chance to win a free water bottle in Just Hype, Korean ice cream cups in Korean Dinner Party, a free piercing in Metal Morphosis or a free KFC burger at Jinjuu. Simply check out the the link below to find out when and where.

More info:

8. All you can eat

Obviously, the reason we know and love Carnaby is because of its serious cool and eclectic collection of restaurants and shops. A load of them are offering special promotions, new cocktails and fancy menus.

Dine in Carnaby with a choice of over 60 unique and innovative restaurants spanning across 30 cuisines.

Expect Bar Crispin to be offering sparkling wine for £5, Dirty Bones will launch two special cocktails and Flare will have happy hour everyday from 5-8pm.

Other bar and restaurants taking part include Kua’ Aina, Marsha, Nightjar and Shoryu.

9. All you can shop

Shop throughout Carnaby, home to over 100 independent and international stores such as Gilly Hicks, IKKS Paris, Mallet London, RÆBURN, Fred Perry and RS No.9 Carnaby.

Aubin’s flagship store will showcase a line-up of DJs throughout August and beauty brand Pixi is launching a Wheel of Fortune concept for customers to win prizes. There’s so much to see and do, we don’t have enough space to list it all here, so you better get down there and enjoy the fun yourself.

What did we say? London in the summer really is the gift that keeps on giving.

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