Summer in the Courtyard

Wishing for days filled with all things alfresco this August, Somerset House has curated a series of free or affordable events and activities running throughout the summer holidays with family and community at the centre of everything. The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is one of the capital’s most picturesque public spaces, free for all to access and enjoy. As long sunny days turn into beautiful balmy evenings, the courtyard will offer an unparalleled location to relax and soak up summer away from the bustle of the city, alongside food and drink pop-ups from talented street food traders plus the magnificent fountains.  

Popular with visitors across the year, the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court centres around 55 dancing fountains, which rise and splash in a choreographed sequence, forming not only a delightful spectacle at the heart of the courtyard, but also the most fun water play opportunity for children in the capital. The fountains will be on daily from 10.00 - 19.00, excluding 17, 24, 25 and 26 August

Throughout the weekend and during some weekdays Somerset House will welcome artistic and cultural communities to take over or curate the courtyard with a series of free events, performances and activities. Visitors of all ages and all families are invited to take part in a diverse array of inspiring creative experiences. 

Highlights include

  • An immersive retail pop-up experience by one of London’s finest Black owned businesses, My Runway Group, where visitors are sure to discover a collection of outstanding creatives.  
  • If visitors would like to soak up the magic of the courtyard, bring your picnic baskets and join Pxssy Palace as they bring their signature style to Somerset House for a daytime gathering for all families.  
  • London Battle will also take over the iconic courtyard for an afternoon packed with live DJ’s and a big break dance battle.
  • A series of family week-day activations including sculpture, weaving and badgemaking workshops    
  • Finishing off the summer season with a celebration of dance, fashion and the largest open-air Vogue Ball in UK history, Vogue Rites.  

East Wing 
2 August – 29 September 
Open daily 11.30 - 18.30  

With over 850 Black owned brands on their website, My Runway Group is returning to Somerset House (East Wing), with the aim of empowering emerging creatives and Black businesses. The curated range of products and events will include a fun immersive and transformative retail experience from My Runway Group’s impressive roster. The pop-up will showcase fashion, homeware, art, beauty products, literature and more, and will include creators from Somerset House’s Black Business Residency

There will be plenty to entertain visitors and to help teach them about the work of outstanding Black creatives. Every product available reflects the unique perspectives, narratives, and aesthetics of the Black diaspora, offering a distinctive and authentic shopping experience. 

My Runway Group has also previously created pop-ups in Carnaby Street and Covent Garden.  


3 August 

Black Unity Bike Ride (BUBR), founded by Londoner Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, celebrates its fifth year and continues the drive for positive change, encouraging unity and empowerment among the Black community through wellness activations.   

The flagship activation is their annual 17-mile bike ride across London. Somerset House is delighted to be the second stop on the route, providing refreshments and a place to rest for BUBR cyclists before they cross the River Thames and conclude in Dulwich Park. There will be a backdrop of good vibes, provided by Lionbeat, who leads the ‘official vibe makers’ of the Black Unity Bike Ride. They will be providing music and family entertainment in the courtyard throughout the day.  To find out more information about how you can join the bike ride, click here

4 August 
14.00 - 20.00  

Over the last few months Femi Koleoso (Ezra Collective, Gorillaz) has established his musical love letter to London, Situation Dance, as an essential monthly dancefloor event. Songs you know, songs you don’t know, all centred around good vibes and the dancefloor. Situation Dance #6 takes over Somerset House for an open-air party as part of Summer in the Courtyard, bringing together vibes from Fela Kuti to James Brown, Salsa to UK Garage, and the dance will end with Lovers Rock. It's all about bringing London together on the dancefloor.  
This is an all-inclusive event. Children, families and people of all ages are welcome. Bring your buggies, bring your parents, bring your grandparents! 

See you all on the dancefloor. 

10 August 
12.00 - 18:00  

Celebrated for their events providing intentional spaces for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour who are women, queer, intersex, trans or non-binary, Pxssy Palace will once again bring their signature style of music and expression of authentic selves to this daytime intergenerational gathering for queer families and all those who support them.  

Have picnic blankets at the ready for this day of play in the courtyard and the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle with other families and enjoy the summer sun.  

Suitable for all ages.  

11 August 

Black Girl Fest Studios (BGF) returns to Somerset House this August, with a curated afternoon of dance, breathwork and movement alongside drop-in workshops. Founded by Nicole Crentsil in 2017, BGF works with brands, businesses and institutions to create more culturally relevant and authentic connections with Black audiences. 

The afternoon starts off with breathwork and movement at 1pm led by Jasmine Douglas, founder of Babes on Waves Club, followed by a dance workshop at 3pm run by choreographer Natalie Lawrensky. All sessions are free, and all are welcome. 

All sessions are free, and all are welcome. 

17 August 
14.00 - 20.30  

As breaking becomes an Olympic sport this summer at Paris 2024, London Battle takes over the courtyard with a day of dance, workshops, live DJs and a big outdoor party, all culminating in a head-to-head dance battle between the four corners of London – North, South, East and West.  

Presented in partnership with Dance Umbrella, London Battle is curated by Jade Hackett, who has performed with some of the UK’s leading hip hop dance theatre companies, including Boy Blue and ZooNation, visitors will be the judge, deciding which neighbourhood of our global city brings the best dance flavour on the day.  

18 August  
13.00 - 19.00  

Somerset House will be celebrating the culmination of South Asian Heritage Month with DAYTIMERS X RepresentAsian on 18 August.  

DAYTIMERS is a collective cultivating and platforming a united force of South Asian creative talent across a huge range of disciplines and practices. The team archives and celebrates the history of brilliance with global South Asian communities and delivers exceptional creative events including their outstanding Boiler Room set as well as radio shows, tracks, mixes, compilations, playlists, and a podcast.   

RepresentAsian is the platform exploring South Asian representation in the UK music industry. Founded by siblings, Safiya Haneen and Yusuf Suave, RepresentAsian explores and promotes representation of South Asian individuals within the UK music industry through club nights, podcasts, workshops and more. Activities throughout this Sunday afternoon will include yoga, musicians, dance DJ sets– amongst much more.  

24 August 
15.00 -22.30 
Tickets: £20  

Marking a triumphant third year at Somerset House, London’s grassroots Ballroom collective Vogue Rites* present an unmissable open-air Vogue Ball in the Somerset House courtyard.  

On carnival weekend, the spotlight shines on the Voguing community and its remarkable talents as performers and house members walk the runway and compete for trophies in an outdoor extravaganza of dance, fashion, and music, featuring a host of international Ballroom talent.  Expect to be dazzled by themes exploring ‘Regal Capes’ ‘Couture and Cake’ as well as ‘Rap Royalty.’  

Step into a world where skill and prowess take centre stage, where power dynamics are reshaped, and discover who will rule and reign supreme over the captivating realm of ballroom.  

* This event is a celebration of global Vogue culture, so we ask that if you are not part of the Ballroom community, you use the opportunity to learn about the scene’s history and cultural significance.  

25 August 
18.00 – 22.30  

Faggamuffin Bloc Party: Carnival, Culture and Community. Celebrating QTBIPOC communities as part of carnival and soundsystem culture since 2018. Faggamuffin Bloc Party will be creating a welcoming atmosphere, with DJs playing Dancehall, Soca, Calypso, Reggae alongside performances by renowned dancers and masquerades, and MCs. In this space, will be the most inclusive Carnival Sunday after party. It's about visibility, representation, and unity. Their motto is: We are here, we exist, and it's the vibe 


For two weeks in August, there will be a series of free drop-in experimental and creative weekday workshops for families. Artists, performers, publishers and designers from the Somerset House resident creative community and beyond, will run workshops in the courtyard for children and families to explore their creativity and imagination first-hand.  

Somerset House Studios artist Leila Dear will run a sculpture-making workshop, inspired by her multidisciplinary practice looking at different geometric shapes and bubbles; there will be crafts, pirate inspired activities, dress-up and sing a longs with the  Admirable Half-Nelson's Drag Pirate Crew run by Heads Bodies Legs; one-of-a-kind wall hanging making inspired by the Windrush Generation with designer Tihara Smith; notebook making with Britian’s first Black-owned publisher specialising in handmade books Forty-Four Words; zero-waste weaving workshop with Della Yellow, and badge making with Art Explora.  

Visit the Somerset House website for more information about all the workshops taking place and specific age guidance. 


Alongside the August activities, The Lore of LOVERBOY exhibition, which celebrates international fashion powerhouse Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, will also be on display in the Terrace Rooms.  

Those looking to refuel and relax will have plenty of choice with things to eat and drink around the Somerset House. With options at WatchHouse, Crosstown and even an (almost) vegan restaurant, Cafe Petiole, visitors will be spoilt for choice – whether it's a tempting doughnut, cake or pastry, or hot and cold meals, salads and sandwiches. There is also the option of a more formal sit down at Spring restaurant, in the 19th-century drawing room within Somerset House. 

Somerset House’s Summer in the Courtyard free offerings are sure to captivate your senses and leave you with lasting memories. There will truly be something for everyone to enjoy. Join the celebrations of the diversity and spirit of the community.  

For the latest information and the full schedule, visit our website here, and keep an eye out for upcoming weekday family-friendly activities. 


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