Kingston upon Thames offers a perfect summer escape. Whether you’re dropping by for a few hours or spending the whole day, our picturesque town, rich in culture and brimming with vitality, offers an array of fun activities and experiences guaranteed to make a great summer’s day out.
Here are 25 activities /experiences to make an unforgettable day out in Kingston.
1. Perfect your summer look: Head to the Bentall Centre, our landmark shopping destination full of luxury and high-street brands, or explore our wide range of big brand names and independent retailers throughout the town centre.
2. Take a stroll along Old London Road: Discover a treasure trove of independent boutiques, antiques, vintage and thrift/charity shops along this historic street, which is also home to the iconic ‘Out of Order’ red phone box sculpture.
3. Test ride an electric bike and explore Kingston: Head to Sigma Sports Electric in Thames Street, off the Ancient Market Place, to take an electric bike for a free test ride and explore the town (advanced booking required). While in store, you can also find out more about e-bikes from Sigma Sport’s team of experts.
5. Hire an electric boat: Have a unique self-drive boating experience on the Thames, with GoBoat.
6. Take a tour on a paddle steamer: Hop aboard one of Turk’s Launch’s boats and enjoy a relaxing tour along the river.
Live Shows and Events
7. See the stars of tomorrow before they’re famous: The FUSE Festival, a celebration of UK and international youth arts, gives visitors to Kingston fantastic opportunities to enjoy a vibrant showcase of young talent from around the world and across the UK (July 1 to 10). This includes WILD (The Musical) performed at the Rose Theatre by a 40-strong cast from Hong Kong. See website for full programme.
Also, as part of FUSE festival, there will be live music on a narrowboat moored alongside Riverside Walk, from 1 to 2 July and again on 7 and 8 July.
9. Chillout with jazz in the park: Sticking with music, Canbury Gardens, a short walk from the Riverside, features a traditional bandstand where you can enjoy free live jazz performances on weekends throughout July and August.
10. Have some laughs: Kingston and the local area have some great venues for stand-up comedy and regularly attract many of the UK’s funniest comedians. Check out The Fighting Cocks pub and FUSEBOX, which have regular comedy nights and cabaret.
11. Experience The Ancient Market Place: Chill out on a summer’s day in the historic Ancient Market Place, which becomes even livelier with an impressive fountain display, deckchairs, and guest markets.
A historic market with a contemporary twist, Kingston’s Ancient Market Place is open 7 days a week, with special events and free themed markets on weekends throughout the summer. These include:
- Sat 24 June: A makers market selling artwork and crafts from local artists
- Sun 25 June: Vegan Food Market
- Sat 1 July – Free FUSE Festival Showcase
- Sun 2 July – Free FUSE Festival Showcase
- Sat 8 July – Dog Day
- Sat 15 July – Urban Market
- Sun 30 July – Antiques Market
12. Pamper your pooch: An entire market dedicated to our four-legged friends arrives in the Ancient Market Place on 8 July. Plus, many local retailers are offering discounts and promotions for dog owners. See Four Legged Foodies website.
13. Enjoy an Urban Market vibe: Offering a wide range of global street food and delicious drinks all served from vintage vans in the Ancient Market Place, the Urban market will make its debut in Kingston on Saturday 15th July.
14. Uncover Kingston’s past on foot: Begin at All Saints Church, where England’s earliest monarchs were originally crowned. Admire the Tudor architecture at the Anthropologie building before calling in at the The Druids Head, Kingston’s oldest pub. Alternatively, grab a meal at Pizza Express, in High Street, which is located in a building that dates back to 1505.
On your way there look out for the ancient Coronation Stone near the Guildhall, and Clattern Bridge, one of England’s oldest surviving bridges. More on Kingston’s historic sites.
15. Visit Kingston’s museum: From a Saxon settlement to the birthplace of pioneering photographer Edward Muybridge, discover more about Kingston’s rich heritage with a visit to the town’s museum. Entry is free – Open Thurs – Sat 10am to 5pm hours. Also, don’t miss the museum’s family-friendly Saxon fun day on August 26.
Food and Drink
16. Treat Yourself to culinary delights from around the globe: Kingston’s culinary scene is truly a melting pot of flavours, offering everything from local farm-to-table dishes to international cuisine and splendid seafood.
Kick-start your gastronomic journey with the vibrant street food options in the Ancient Market Place. And for those with a penchant for fast-food, Kingston doesn’t disappoint. From gourmet burgers to artisan pizza, there’s something to satisfy every fast food craving.
Indoor Activities (to keep cool or stay dry)
18. Let your children enjoy imaginative play: Take your little ones to PICNIC Children’s Indoor Play Centre in the Rotunda, where they can enjoy a fun-filled environment that enables them to learn about the world by acting out roles from everyday life.
19. Go old school and catch a movie or play indoor games: Beat the unpredictable British weather, and enjoy a big screen cinema experience at one of Kingston’s two cinemas (Odeon & Curzon), go ten pin bowling or have fun with arcade games at Tenpin Kingston.
Art and Exhibitions
20. Snap a selfie with a life-size chimp sculpture: Follow our free ‘Chimps are Family’ trail. Touch, hug or take a selfie with each of our ten life-like chimp sculptures, at locations across the town, and get a glimpse into the life of a chimp and the many behaviours we share with our ape cousins. Download the map here or pick one up at shops across town.
21. Tour the town’s street art: Kingston boasts impressive street art murals, including our latest ‘I Love Kingston’ design, in Eden Street near Primark.
22. Learn about David Bowie’s Kingston connections:: Throughout Summer, Kingston museum is hosting a guest exhibition all about pop legend David Bowie and other local bands.
And on Saturday 5th August, the museum is hosting a family fun day to celebrate Bowie. Come along and help create a tapestry from 1970s clothes or enjoy other fun activities for the whole family.
Nature and Parks
23. Take a Riverside stroll: Kingston boasts a splendid riverside where you can leisurely wander, embracing either the north path towards Canbury Gardens or venturing south towards Surbiton. Along these scenic routes, you can spot Kingston’s impressive array of waterfowl, including majestic swans, grebes, cormorants and herons.
24. Picnic in the vast local parks: Before setting off on your walk, why not explore Kingston’s local markets or delis, perfect for putting together a delicious picnic spread. With parks like Home Park, Hampton Court Palace Gardens, or Bushy Park close by, you can enjoy a meal in beautiful surroundings.
25. Refresh and refuel: After your walk and picnic, the town offers numerous options to wind down and savour the rest of your day. Choose from a variety of local cafes, ice cream parlours, and bubble tea and smoothie bars to rest your feet and quench your thirst.
Share your summer in Kingston