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If rowing a boat decorated like a fruit salad into a banana grotto under a giant gold pineapple has always been your idea of a perfect summer’s day out, well, this year you’re in luck.

Among London’s outdoor offerings this sunny season – from rooftop film clubs to open-air theatre and fields of festivals – the Tutti Frutti boating lake at Kew Gardens has got to be one of the more bizarre.

Part of the heritage site’s IncrEdibles fest, billed as a “voyage through surprising edible plants”, the colourful centrepiece has been created by culinary artists Bompas & Parr.

That it’s a mite surreal should come as no surprise, then – these are the same folks who created a musical spoon specifically for eating Heinz beans with, using the principles of bone conductivity to transmit a specially composed soundscape into your inner ear as you munch. True story.

Kew’s head of festivals, Vicky Brightman, explains: “It’s a piece of art that doesn’t exist without people – it’s really immersive, vibrant and bright. Even if you don’t want to get in a boat, it’s nice to watch other people on the water, and you can just wander onto Pineapple Island and relax.”

It's bananas: a rower readies to enter the grotto

She adds this is the first time Kew’s Palm House pond has been used as a boating lake since 1755, which means you can help make a piece of particularly odd history if you do decide to pick up a paddle.  

IncrEdibles, which also features a Global Kitchen Garden to show off more than 90 varieties of edible plant, is just one of the Unesco-listed botanic gardens’ summer specials, with Kew the Music and Kew the Movies also kicking off on the lawns on July 9 and Sep 12 respectively.

Catching the likes of The Human League, Leona Lewis, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Dirty Dancing here with picnic basket in hand will be a quintessentially English experience – “it really is an exceptional backdrop,” promises Brightman.       

More unique fairweather fun starting up soon comes courtesy of the excellent Bandstand Busking.

Founded by a couple of guys from Edinburgh, Ian Sutherland and Tom Muirhead, back in 2008, what started out as a pet project – inviting up-and-coming bands to play acoustic sets at disused bandstands across London – has become something of a phenomenon, with major names such as King Creosote, Emmy the Great and Mercury winner Speech Debelle all making appearances over the years.

“On a sunny day we’ll get about 300 people turning up to watch,” reveals Sutherland, who adds he’s aiming to put on a busk a month throughout summer. “There’s this mini festival atmosphere, and it’s an intimate setting, sitting at the feet of a band playing acoustically. It’s really stripped back, really raw.”

For now, Bandstand Busking is sticking to its original formula (setting up shows ad hoc and tweeting the details just before they start), but the concept is likely to progress.

“I got an email from a guy in Mumbai this morning about starting it out there,” Sutherland tells us. “So watch this space.” We reckon they’re going global.           

More Outdoor London>


IncrEdibles at Kew Gardens. £16.
Tutti Frutti Boating Experience is £4.50 for 30 mins,
10am-5pm. Until Sep 1.  Victoria Gate, Kew Road  
Tube | Kew Gardens 

Bandstand Busking.
Follow on Twitter for details of the next busk @bandstandbusks. 


Outdoor London events: 'Tis the season for rooftop shindigs and frolicks in parks
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