What's On in London: June

Meltdown Festival © Karen Paulina Biswell

What’s on in London:
June 2024

What to see and do in the Capital this June

Words by Ali Howard


Meltdown, 14-23 June
This year’s Meltdown is curated by the inimitable Chaka Khan, kicking off on 14 June with an unmissable performance by the diva herself, and spanning two weekends packed with both free and ticketed events, with a stellar line-up that includes Emeli Sandé, Bruce Hornsby, and legendary funk/rock/soul/Latin band War. The festival also features performances from Malian supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique, indie artist Master Peace, and Black feminist punk band Big Joanie, complemented, as always, by vibrant club nights – DJ extraordinaire Norman Jay and techno powerhouse Adonis are amongst those slated to command the decks. Plus, an extensive free programme on the Riverside Terrace and in the Clore Ballroom highlights Khan’s dedication to community and wellness. We can’t think of a better way to kick start a sizzling summer in the Capital.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 (020 3879 9555; southbankcentre.co.uk)

Meltdown Festival

Meltown Festival, Above: Left: Chaka Khan © Meltdown Curator; Above Top Right (and main page image): Les Amazones d’Afrique © Karen Paulina Biswell; Bottom Right: Norman Jay 2015 © Dean Chalkely


Launching A Landmark: The Unseen Opening Weeks,
22 June-31 August
This month, London’s iconic Tower Bridge will host a captivating free open-air exhibition, featuring a series of previously unseen photographs from the building’s construction and early days in 1894. These images were recently uncovered by the descendants of Edward Cruttwell, a Victorian engineer who played a crucial role in the bridge’s history. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the lives of the workers and the first users of the bridge. Expect AR features and additional digital content, providing a deep dive into the personal stories that underpin this worldfamous landmark. Patrick Molineux, Cruttwell’s great grandson who discovered the photographs, reveals: “My mother had stored the photos for decades in an archive box, and we were pleasantly shocked to discover that they’d never been seen publicly. It’s always been a source of pride for our family to have such a connection to an icon like Tower Bridge so we couldn’t quite believe we’d discovered such a piece of history.”
Tower Bridge, SE1 (towerbridge.org.uk)

Tower Bridge Launching A Landmark: The Unseen Opening Weeks


Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White,
Until 29 June
Monique Touko returns to the Lyric this season, directing an emotive production penned by the esteemed American playwright Alice Childress. The play, set in 1918 in the deep south, navigates the turbulent waters of an interracial romance against a backdrop of oppressive anti-miscegenation laws. This ground-breaking work delves into the devastating effects these laws had on personal lives, mirroring the harsh realities the playwright faced during the Civil Rights era. Touko says: “This is my first attempt at an African American classic, told by a writer ahead of her time, who centred Black women and exposed the highs and lows of the human condition. I feel a big responsibility with this revival to ensure it is handled with care and speaks to contemporary audiences.” Expect a poignant exploration of race and class in this not-to-be-missed retelling.
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Lyric Square, King Street, W6 (020 8741 6850; lyric.co.uk)    

Wedding Band artwork (c) Spencer Murphy© Spencer Murphy


Finding the Poetic, 6 June
NW Live Arts introduces an inspiring fusion of music and storytelling with an event set to enchant audiences at the historic Cecil Sharp House. This is, in fact, the grand finale of a seven-week series of innovative workshops designed to unite community members with professional musicians. These sessions have fostered a unique exploration of cultural and communal connections, and the concert boasts a collaborative effort from celebrated artists including Jacqueline Shave, Joely Koos, Catrin Finch, and Kuljit Bhamra. Together, they’ll present an evening of eclectic music spanning various cultures and eras. Expect a blend of improvisation, folk, and classical music that celebrates the resilience of humanity, offering stories of hope and beauty emerging from adversity. The initiative not only showcases diverse musical traditions but also highlights the transformative power of the arts in bridging communities and inspiring individuals in uncertain times.
2 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 (020 7485 2206; efdss.org)

Finding the Poetic


Nineteen Eighty-Four
The Folio Society marks 75 years of George Orwell’s seminal work with a limited-edition release, restricted to just 750 copies. In collaboration with The Orwell Foundation, this collectors’ edition epitomises the chilling dystopian narrative that’s captivated global audiences. The book boasts eight dramatic full-page illustrations by design duo La Boca (of Black Swan poster fame); it comes housed in a striking metallic cloth binding and a mirrored box that conceals exclusive collectibles; and it boasts a fresh introduction by acclaimed novelist Elif Shafak, who draws parallels between Orwell’s fictional world and contemporary realities, with insights into the novel’s enduring relevance. That the anniversary coincides with the rise of AI, turbulent changes in social media, presidential elections, and birth of reality TV (Candid Camera also turns 75 this year) is doubleplusgood.
£500 (foliosociety.com)

1984The Folio Society Limited Edition of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Illustrations © La Boca 2024

Hot reads this month