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South Bank's Summer 2021 Cultural Highlights

May 27th, 2021 | by Tom Harrow-Smith

Summer 2021 Cultural Highlights in South Bank

On May 17th, cultural venues were able to open their doors once again and this means an action packed summer on 

  • Refugees Forced to Flee and Ai Wei Wei at IWM London

    Dates: Refugees: Forced to Flee, 19th May - 14th June. A History of Bombs: 19th May - 5th September.

    For a limited time only, visitors to IWM London can catch the museums Refugees: Forced to Flee exhibition as well as Ai Wei Wei's A History of Bombs, which has seen the renowned Chinese artist transform the iconic atrium.

    Refugees explores a century of refugee experiences. Cutting-edge research supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council has provided the exhibition with unparalleled resources to tell stories of refugees across the world combining new research and real-life experiences. Over 80 photographs, oral histories, documents and objects are on display, many for the first time.

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    IWM London
  • Exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery

    Dates: Matthew Barney & Igshaan Adams, 19th May - 25th July.

    Until 25 July, you can not one, but two exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery from Matthew Barney (exhibition pictured) and Igshaan Adams take centre stage. This is the first time either artist has had an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and tickets have already been selling fast since reopening.

    Adams' cross-disciplinary practice combines aspects of weaving, sculpture and installation whilst exploring concerns related to race, religion and sexuality. Whilst Matthew Barney's exhibition features the premiere of his 'breathtakingly beautiful' new feature length film, which follows a sharp-shooter in her pursuit of wolves across the winter wilderness of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains.  

    In addition, there's a range of online talks and panel discussions to accompany these exhibitions, which you explore using the link below.

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    Southbank Centre
  • National Theatre Returns to the Stage

    Dates: After Life, 2nd June - 24th July. Under Milk Wood, 16th June - 24th July.

    On 2 June, National Theatre opens it's doors to theatre lovers for the first time since 2020 with the play After Life from Bunny Christie, Jeremy Herrin and Jack Thorne inspired by Hirokazu Kore-eda's award-winning 1998 film of the same name. The plot follows a group of strangers grapple with this impossible question as they find themselves in a bureaucratic waiting room between life and death.

    Then on 16 June, Under Milk Wood starring Michael Sheen alongside Sian Phillips and Karl Johnson, breathes new life into Dylan Thomas' poetic masterpiece. Tickets for this play are selling fast, so you'll have to be quick to get your hands on one!

    National Theatre
  • A New Season at The Old Vic

    Dates: The Dumb Waiter, 7th July - 10th July. Bagdad Cafe, 19th July - 21st August

    Live audiences return to The Old Vic with an on stage adaptation of Eleonore Adlon’s iconic 1987 film Bagdad CafeOn top of that, Daniel Mays and David Thewlis will star in The Old Vic's sixth edition of their online series IN CAMERA, with an adaptation of Harold Pinter's play The Dumb Waiter. Even if you miss out on being at the theatre in person, you'll still be able to enjoy new productions from the comfort of your own home. The Old Vic are also producing a whole summers worth of online content too for audiences all over the world to explore, click the link below to discover what's on offer.

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    The Old Vic
  • Southbank Centre's Summer Reunion

    Dates: Every weekend throughout summer.

    There'll be open air live music events every weekend until the end of August at Southbank Centre as part of their big summer reunion. The Royal Festival Hall will be opening up their Level 2 terrace for live music and DJ's, with these events all being completely FREE. With so many performers and artists, we couldn't possibly list them all here, so click the link below to see the full line up.

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    Southbank Centre
  • Live Music at Royal Festival Hall

    With in person and online events, Royal Festival's live music calendar is back to being loaded with huge names in classical music. Chineke!, The BBC Concert OrchestraNicola Bendetti, The English National Ballet and Mike Oldfield will all be performing this summer alongside many other big names. To see the full summer line up, click the link below for more information and how to book tickets.

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    Southbank Centre
  • Classic Cinema and New Releases at BFI

    Dates: All Summer Long

    Get your popcorn a the ready. BFI Southbank are showing Big Screen Classics alongside acclaimed new releases this summer. Catch the likes of After Love starring Joanna Scanlan or Nomadland with Frances McDormand, alongside the likes of Citizen KaneEraserhead and Bitter Victory. It's not just films on offer, with panels, discussion and talks also taking place throughout the summer, many available to watch online, BFI are proving plenty for Cinephiliac's to get their teeth stuck into. With films to cater to anyone's appetites, see what catches your eye by clicking the link below.

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    BFI Southbank
  • New Creatives Season at Oxo Tower Wharf

    Dates: 17 June - 31 July

    See inspiring work from the innovative and resilient individuals shaping our future and how the constraints of a pandemic have cultivated their creativity. From product design to fine art, illustration to fashion, animation to interior architecture, New Creatives at Oxo Tower Wharf provides a platform for emerging talent from the UK’s leading art and design courses. What's more all exhibitions part of the series will be completely free to visit, meaning you can experience culture this summer without having splash out.

    The first two shows will be 'Made in Brunel' (17 - 20 June) and 'Pattern Cutting' (23 - 27 June) from Brunel University and The London College of Fashion respectively.

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    Oxo Tower Wharf

Find The Venues

  • 1 - IWM London

    Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ 

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  • 2 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 3 - National Theatre

    Upper Ground, South Bank
    London
    SE1 9PX 

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  • 4 - The Old Vic

    The Old Vic
    The Cut
    London
    SE1 8NB 

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  • 5 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 6 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 7 - BFI Southbank

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XT 

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  • 8 - Oxo Tower Wharf

    The Oxo Tower
    Bargehouse Street
    South Bank
    London SE1 9PH 

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