Blink and you'll miss it: London's summer of Olympics pop-ups

Temporary set-ups are appearing all over London this summer – Katherine Price takes a look some of the temporary attractions to make the most of now

5 mins

The Book Club Basecamp Pop-up bar

Leonard St car park, Shoreditch (27 July – 12 August)

This pop-up bar is set to be a very British affair: Olympic-themed cocktails (such as Starter's Orders, the Don Thompson and End it like Beckham), bunting, an ice-cream van, real ales from the local London Fields Brewery and, of course, Pimm's. And, unlike many of the pop-up bars around, there's no extortionate entry fee.

Street Kitchen will be offering burgers and organic food, which you can burn off with a game of table football, basketball, beach volleyball, croquet or Beer Pong Slam Jam. There will also be a great big outdoor screen in the car park showing the Olympic events, and further entertainment in the form of local artists creating graffiti art in front of your very eyes.

Rumour has it there's also going to be a paddling pool – and there is a beer tent 'if' it rains...

More info here: The Book Club Basecamp

The Big Rooftop Tea and Golf Party

Selfridges, Oxford Street (31 May – 2 September)

Selfridges' renowned rooftop terrace has been transformed into a cake-based crazy golf course by Bompas & Parr, known for their chocolate-based climbing wall and concrete cake – but no eating the course.

Each hole represents a different London landmark, including an icing-coloured Big Ben, and silver-plattered jellies. An old-fashioned band stand will also be showcasing fringe British musical talent throughout the day, while Daylesford Organic will be serving up 'the highest afternoon tea on Oxford Street' in the form of fresh, local, organic produce at the rooftop Daylesford cafe.

More info here: The Big Rooftop Tea and Golf Party

Propstore Bar

South Bank (31 May – 29 September)

A small but quirky riverside bar, Propstore is in fact part of the National Theatre. Although sheltered, it doesn't exactly keep out the elements, so the experience is weather dependent. But placed in a lovely location it's an ideal for observing the views over the river, come rain or shine.

The bar itself is decorated with props from the theatre: the crocodile from Peter Pan, the Thought-Catcher from Beauty and the Beast, and vintage light fittings from Frankenstein, as well as various skulls and vintage-style clocks. All this makes for an offbeat atmosphere that you really wouldn't find anywhere else.

It also serves quality food, a step up from the usual pub grub (beef and feta cheese meatballs with spicy tomatoes or pulled pork sandwiches with BBQ sauce and coleslaw for just £4), draught beer and English wines.

The Calf

Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford (1 June into November)

The Calf, The Cow's little sister, is within close proximity to the Olympic park and stadium to serve the thirsty Olympics patrons, and will also be hosting Olympic-themed parties and events.

Warm and colourful, it's designed to look a lot like a barn shed/ski chalet. Straw barrel tables, antlers, blackboards, hats on the walls and tinned plants on the tables – but thankfully no farm animals. There is, however, fresh British produce and a plenitude of real ales and cocktails such as the 'Absolut Bloody London' and the 'Frisky Bison' (all served in milk bottles).

More info here: The Calf

London Mexfest

Rich Mix, Shoreditch (17 – 19 August)

The three-day fiesta that is London Mexfest will be taking place in Shoreditch as part of the Shoreditch Fringe Festival in August – three days of live music, contemporary, award-winning films, exhibitions, food, and even wrestling.

The film festival includes something to suit everyone's tastes; from documentaries, classic science fiction, short films, feature-lengths or animations. It's also hosting the world premiere of Made in Mexico, a film exploring Mexico's music, people and lifestyle, and Carlos Cuarón’s short film The Second Bakery Attack.

Talks will also be held to engage with the filmmakers, as well as the first ever UK exhibition of Lucha Libre photographs by Lourdes Grobet, and a live performance by Armendititia.

Regent's Canal Floating Market

Mile End, East London (20 July – 16 August)

Only a mile away from the Olympic Park and Victoria Park (one of the official live sites for showing the highlights of the Olympics on the big screen), a floating market has tied itself up to the banks of Regent's Canal.

Barges and narrow boats include the 'Word on the Water' bookstore, barbecued sausages, crafts, vintage clothes, a hat shop, glass jewellery, Rawling's Cakes (made without eggs, wheat or dairy), a herbal apothecary, The Sandwich Barge, Slovakian food and a hair salon. The book barge will also feature poetry slams and musical performances. The market will then move to Little Venice (directly north of Paddington) on the 20 August until the 2 September for the Paralymic Games and August Bank Holiday.

Every four years, as part of the Olympics, guest nations turn iconic and landmark sites into Olympic National Houses around the host city. Here are our favourite currently showcasing their unique cuisine and culture in London:


Casa Brasil, Somerset House, The Strand (21 July – 8 September)

Anticipating the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Somerset House is to become Casa Brasil, which includes art exhibitions, film screenings and musical performances.

'From the Margin to the Edge: Brazilian Art and Design in the 21st Century', this free exhibition celebrates the best of modern Brazilian art and design. All of the artworks were made within the last decade, featuring 33 different artists and designers, emerging and established, from every region of Brazil.

From installation pieces and paintings to videos and sculptures, the works represent the vibrant art scene across the country.


Russia.Sochi.Park, Kensington Gardens, Bayswater (29 July – 7 August)

Russia's 'house' consists of two venues in Kensington Gardens: Russia.Park and Sochi.Park.

Russia.Park is an outdoor picnic and performance space with pavilions, exhibitions and sports, as well as a main stage showcasing Russian music and dance. Sample traditional Russian shashlik, pirozhki and blini, or to build up an appetite the Megafon multi-purpose sports zone has a mini ice rink that converts to a football pitch, a snowboarding simulator and ice curling tracks.

Sochi.Park, features interactive 4D technologies for a digital trip through Russia, a chairlift ride over the Sochi mountains (in the 4D experience cinema) and a chance to digitally experience the next Winter Olympic host city (2014). It's main attraction is its ice rink where world-class ice skaters will be performing.


Holland Heineken House, Alexandra Palace, Wood Green (26 July – 12 August)

Holland's Heineken House is well established as one of the best Olympic houses every Games. The palace will have more than 50 big screens to watch the sporting action, live DJs and bands will be playing every night, including VanVelzen and Jeroen van der Boom, and of course there will be plenty of Heineken. Dutch bitterballen will be served at the Food Court, as will panoramic views over the city.

The House will also be encouraging visitors to get involved in the Sports Hall during the day, where there will be activities and daily competitions. The Athletics Union has a challenging obstacle course and will record your time, entering you in to be winner of the day, or there's always the fencing simulator...


Imagine Denmark, St Katherine Docks, Tower Hill (27th July – 12 August)

Imagine Denmark will be holding a variety of events across the season. Starting the season is the Food and Drink festival, with traditional Danish pastries, smørrebrød and free hot dogs. Danish chefs will be having demonstrations and talks, and their audiences will be encouraged to get involved.

A Hans Christian Anderson pavilion will host actors performing Danish fairytales, the world's tallest Lego wind turbine will be making an appearance, and a replica of a Viking ship from the Roskilde Viking Museum will also be there. The Vikings will also be taking over the docks and doing street theatre, re-enactment, fashion shows, concerts and traditional crafts and activities.


Austria House Tirol, Trinity House, Tower Hill (26 July – 12 August)

The Austrian House kicks off by welcoming the Tirol charity cycle ride group at the end of their 1,300km eight-day cycle from Innsbruck to London to raise money for Disability Snowsport UK. There'll be yodelling competitions (and an instructor on hand to help), and Weisswein, Austrian beers, Schnapps, Almdudler, Apfelstrudel and Kaiserscharrn in the Alpine Garden.

The 29th is to be Tirol snow day, with an apres-ski party in the Alpine Garden, and glühwein and schnapps will be served at the Ice Bar. The person dressed in the quirkiest ski outfit will be awarded the a ski holiday for two in the Austrian Tirol this winter.

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