A perfect summer’s day is often best paired with a large group of friends, their friends, a few cousins, some of the cousins friends—and everyone's dogs. The stress of organising these kind of mass get togethers—especially at a place with good food and drink—means that you probably don’t do it often enough. So we're here to help.
Here are some outdoor spots you can turn up at with a group. They’re all prime real estate. And, they have great options for food too.
There’s no lack of shipping container-filled yards around east London but the only one really worth going to is in Dalston, where you’ll find The Dusty Knuckle, 40FT Brewery, and Acme Fire Cult. The shared and covered outdoor space has room for 150 people (!) and some brilliant beer options, not to mention food ones, on their doorstep. The taproom is open towards the end of the week and its new-ish grill-focused restaurant Acme Fire Cult is serving some serious slabs of barbecued meat and some seriously good fermented squash hummus.
This huge outdoor space is on a field. Like an actual cricket field... where people play cricket. Once you get past that, you’ll appreciate this 200+ cover beer garden for what it is. And that’s the place to rock up with a group of friends and eat some of the best brisket in London. British Afghan catering company Cue Point have set up residency at The Chiswick Pavilion this summer and the menu has their excellent smoked meats, 10/10 brisket bun, and beer on tap. It’s the perfect spot to hit up when you want a BBQ and don’t have the patience to smoke brisket for 16 hours.
photo credit: Karolina Krasuska
Varanda is one of London’s big outdoor spaces that has wild amounts of untapped group hang potential. Why? Well, it’s in Crystal Palace. Not that there’s anything wrong with Crystal Palace, in fact, we like going here for a regular reminder that we should probably work out more often so that a single stroll up Gipsy Hill doesn’t leave us breathless for two hours. But we also love this area because of Varanda. A cool bar packed with exposed brick, this place has a huge back garden situation with plenty of long tables, gazebos, and—swoon—heaters. The real perk here though is the cocktails. Their margarita is one of the best in town.
Nothing says summer like hanging out with all your friends in a car park, right? We’re not talking about a couple of cans leaning on a Vauxhall Corsa though, we’re talking about Peckham Levels. The food and drink floor of this old car hotel is perfect when you’ve got a serious amount of people with seriously different tastes.
You could walk past this open-air garden under Vauxhall’s railway arches, without realising it was even there. We know this because that’s exactly what we did when we came here. Twice. But now that we’ve warned you, we’re sure you won’t miss this literally huge spot. Picture rows upon rows of benches, all covered with a huge marquee roof, a resident DJ, beer, and a bunch of food vendors selling things like wagyu burgers, halloumi wraps, and - our favourite - French Tacos. They’ve always got events on the weekends, think bottomless brunches every Saturday, drag brunch picnics, and live sports screenings.
Pergola Paddington Central
If frosé, burgers, and dumplings sounds like your sort of party, then Pergola Paddington is where you and your pals want to be heading. This enormous open-air market is non-stop come summer, but grab yourself a spot and you’ll find it’s an extremely easy (and dangerous) place to pitch up in.
photo credit: Jack Pasco
The absolute wrong way to do The Prince is to rock up eight deep with no booking. So definitely book. When you do get there, booking in hand hopefully, you’ll find a massive drinking hall with four restaurants in residence along the sides of the space. This summer, they have Homeslice, Jefferies, Patty & Bun, and Edu, which should mean something to suit everyone’s tastes. With a covered roof, this is a solid choice to day drink and day eat even when the weather is being a bit ‘British’.
Now, we’re going to preface this by saying that Barge East is very much a docked boat that you can eat, drink, and be merry on. But for the purposes of a hang with all of your friends, your partner’s three cousins, and someone you think is called Sarah who you’re 99% sure no one in your group actually knows, Barge East’s garden is where you want to be. You’ll still get excellent views of the river, not to mention access to heaters, cute little log seats, and all the excellent drinking options you’ll find aboard. Importantly, most of their garden terrace is also completely covered from the, ahem, trash London weather and you can get involved in their very exciting Flatbread Society street food situation. Yes, the smoked haddock flatbread is, in our humble opinion, mandatory.
This huge open-air market in Elephant & Castle is a good spot to rock up to at the weekend with a group of friends to eat and drink in the sunshine. With a square footage of 45,000, we’re pretty sure there’s enough space for you and your five pals. On top of the usual craft beer, burgers, and hot dogs, there’s an Italian slant (clue’s in the name) and as well as an artisanal gelato vendor, and there’s a grocery where you can pick up some fancy cured meat and cheese. Give it a visit when you want something a bit more chilled out than the usual street food scene.
Picture this: half your group want to watch the football, the other half of your group - despite very much enjoying the tender emotional embrace of the show Ted Lasso - definitely don’t want to watch the football. Where do you go? To Peckham Riviera, that’s where. A big bar right by Peckham station, this place has that whole urban paradise thing going on and has everything from great amaretto sours to live sports covered. Basically, it’s a real crowd-pleaser and the tasty hot dogs don’t hurt either.
Like the Great Plains being roamed by herds of majestic bison, the warehouses of Hackney Wick form the perfect habitat for fun loving east enders to thrive in great numbers. You’ll find plenty of them at Crate Brewery, where in addition to excellent house-brewed beers and ciders on tap, they dish out brilliant thin-crust pizzas. At weekends, there are DJs spinning and a party vibe, and there’s masses of outdoor space for your crew to sit by the canal.