The London social season: Where to see and be seen this summer 

Luxury London

10 May 2022

As the pomp and parties of the London season return sans-restrictions, here’s everything you need to know about the finest events taking place this summer

10 May 2022 | Luxury London

Y

ou can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather. For the organisers of the capital’s major summer events, however, it is more than a pretty picnic that’s in the works this season. With the last two years seeing practically every summer event in the social calendar cancelled, postponed or limited to a reduced capacity, 2022 promises the return of London’s social season with a bang. Whether you favour fashion and flowers or concerts and classic cars, here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the capital this summer.

Chelsea Flower Show

Expect show-stopping Jubilee-themed displays and horticultural tributes to the Queen’s 70-year reign as the Chelsea Flower Show pays homage to Her Majesty. As ever, the main attraction will be the cutting-edge show gardens, displaying the very best in outdoor design and innovation, while the onsite house plant studio returns this year with a plant clinic, perfectly poised to help you revive any flagging fauna. Elsewhere, the Discovery Zone will demonstrate the latest developments in horticulture science, the Great Pavilion promises to be a riot of colour and fragrance and there will be plenty of opportunities for shopping and fine dining along the way.

24-28 May 2022, rhs.org.uk

 
 

Glyndebourne Festival

Located in the heart of Sussex (and thus close enough to the capital to be a firm fixture in the social set’s calendar), Glyndebourne’s annual operatic festival series returns with its most ambitious line-up yet. Alongside two revivals, the festival will premiere four new productions for 2022 including Puccini’s La Bohème and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro but, as ever, the food will prove as big a draw as the music at this world-renowned black tie event. Once again, fine dining restaurant, Middle & Over Wallop, will be helmed by the Michelin-starred Galvin Brothers, while British classics and afternoon tea will be served at the more informal Mildmay, with Nether Wallop transformed into a casual dining space with sustainability at its core. Of course, the famous Glyndebourne picnic will also be on offer, complete with luxurious treats from local suppliers.

21 May - 28 August 2022, glyndebourne.com

Chestertons Polo in the Park

Returning to Fulham’s Hurlingham Park after a two-year hiatus, Chestertons Polo in the Park promises three days of high-octane international polo at the spiritual home of the sport. Six teams from cities across the world, including Dubai, New York and Buenos Aires, will compete throughout the tournament, with this year featuring the first international women's match to be played in central London. Libations abound courtesy of Mahiki, Champagne Lanson, Pimm’s and Fever Tree, while the inaugural Fulham Food Festival is tipped to be a big attraction, featuring pop-up stalls from the capital’s culinary hotspots including Gaucho, Truffle Burger, Calamari Canteen and more. Wedges at the ready then, those divots won’t stomp themselves.

10-12 June 2022, polointheparklondon.com

 
 

Royal Ascot

Image courtesy of Royal Ascot

The UK’s most stylish horse racing event will be back in earnest this year, opening up its gates for five days of world-class flat racing, fine dining and pageantry. And when we say stylish, we mean it: Royal Ascot has some of the most exacting standards of dress of the whole season. A top hat and tails are mandatory for men in the Royal Enclosure while women should be covered from knee to shoulder and finish their look with some exceptional millinery. Rules for the Queen Anne Enclosure are slightly more relaxed but suits and ties are still expected, along with fascinators and formal dresses for women. In short, wave goodbye to your loungewear.

14-18 June 2022, ascot.com

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition 2021. Image: Royal Academy of Arts/David Parry

Perhaps the capital’s most hotly anticipated annual art fair, the RA’s Summer Exhibition offers collectors and connoisseurs alike the opportunity to see and buy works by both established and rising talents across a range of disciplinary practices in the world’s oldest open submission exhibition. Featuring works on display by Royal Academicians, Honorary Academicians and well-known artists – previous years have included work by Tracey Emin, David Hockney and Wolfgang Tillmans – with up to £50,000 worth of prizes up for grabs, the exhibition presents an eclectic collection of contemporary work that reflects the many facets of the art world as we know it today.

21 June - 21 August 2022, royalacademy.org.uk

 
 

Wimbledon

Britain’s favourite tennis event will be back at the All England Lawn Tennis Club this summer, promising to be bigger and better than ever: 2022 marks Wimbledon’s 135th year, while the club will also celebrate 100 years of Centre Court. Traditional ticketing has also made a return this year, as the public ballot tickets will be reserved for those who were unlucky enough to hold them for the 2020 event – though you are still welcome to queue up or try your luck with resale. The event will, as ever, be televised, so if you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets you can still catch the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic on the BBC. Time to crack out the strawberries and cream.

27 June - 10 July 2022, wimbledon.com

London Concours

The capital’s most exclusive classic car show returns to the serene gardens of the Honourable Artillery Company Headquarters in the City of London this June. Held in collaboration with Swiss watchmaker Breguet, the event will be staged across three themed days: VIP Preview Day, Style Edition Day and Supercar Day. Day one will be invite-only and will see the official judging and Best in Show presentations for the classic cars, while day two will open the event to the public and take the form of an upscale garden party held among some truly astonishing vintage automobiles. The final day will be a celebration of all things supercharged, with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the like joining the line-up for a special set of supercar awards.

28-30 June 2022, londonconcours.co.uk

 
 

Henley Royal Regatta

Following last year’s postponed event, London’s premier rowing event will return to the banks of the Thames for the first week of July and, as ever, the options for visitors will be many and varied. While VIPs head straight for the members’ only Stewards’ Enclosure and serious rowing fans take a seat in the Regatta Enclosure, those more interested in donning their finery for a fabulous day by the river are to be found taking advantage of the many official and private hospitality offerings. Looking for a seriously exclusive day out? Rent a boat and get up close to the action as you drift lazily downstream, champagne in hand.

28 June - 3 July 2022, hrr.co.uk

Serpentine Gallery Summer Party

A highlight on the summer season calendar, each year the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party sees London’s best-dressed denizens descend upon Kensington Gardens for a celebration of the Serpentine Gallery. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Serpentine Pavilion, the star-studded soirée brings together the worlds of art, music, fashion, film and design for an evening of live music, fine art and frivolity.

30 June 2022, serpentinegalleries.org

 
 

Masterpiece

Masterpiece London 2019. Image: Ben Fisher

One of London’s biggest annual multidisciplinary art fairs returns to the Royal Chelsea Hospital with a roster of international exhibitors showcasing the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery. With a full schedule of tours, talks and lectures, Masterpiece – now in its 14th year – brings together creatives across every major market discipline for the world’s largest cross-collecting fair, offering both new and established collectors the opportunity to view and buy a diverse selection of exceptional pieces spanning over 4,000 years of art history.

30 June - 6 July 2022, masterpiecefair.com

Read more: The jet-set guide to 2022