If you are looking for a great day out in London, fabulous music and an easy journey home (or back to your hotel) then the British Summer Time Festival is for you.
There is nothing quite like an outdoor gig but if you are anything like me the thought of muddy fields, camping and no hairdryers or straighteners for a few days usually rules out most of the summer festivals.
Thankfully, British Summer Time came along with a festival experience without the fear of losing your tent or bad hair days.
What is the British Summer Time Festival?
British Summer Time (or BST as its often known as) is a series of concerts in Hyde Park each summer.
Held over two weekends, the festival features some of the world’s biggest acts playing in the heart of London in one of the world’s most famous parks.
Around 65,000 fans descend for a day of music in one of London’s most famous parks.
The first act is usually on stage around 2pm and the show finishes around 10.30-11.00pm.
Artists and bands that have performed at BST including Take That, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Little Mix, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Bruno Mars, The Killers, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons and Stevie Wonder.
British Summer Time Festival 2024 Line Up
Sunday 30 June
Kings of Leon
Friday 5 July
Saturday 6 July
Sunday 7 July
Saturday 13 July
Sunday 14 July
British Summer Time Tickets: How to get tickets for BST
Its always fun trying to get get tickets for Hyde Park gigs. Thankfully, tickets are available from a couple of the big ticket agencies so you have a few options to try.
The event sponsor (currently American Express) often has ticket pre sale for customers so you buy in advance of the general sale. They usually go on sale an hour after the show is announced.
Read more: Guide to buying tickets online
This is where it gets a little complicated with a number of different ticket choices (and prices).
The venue is fully standing apart from one grandstand. The arena is split into sections with each area a different price. In general the closer to the stage you want to be the more you’ll have to pay.
So before the ticket on sale it’s worth having a think about what you are prepared to pay. Are you just looking to have a great day out with your friends? Or do you want to get as close to the front as possible?
Once you have decided that it makes the ticket buying process much easier.
General Admission (GA)
The cheapest tickets at BST are general admission ones. These tickets get you into the main arena and you can choose where to sit/stand. You also have access to all the food and drink concessions around the edge of the main arena area.
However you won’t be able to get close to the stage as the general admission section is behind the Diamond Circle and Gold Circle.
So you can still have a great day, just be prepared to watch most the show on the giant screens. My view of Take That at Hyde Park in 2015 (photo below) illustrates that!
There is primary entry option which gets you early access to the site – one hour before the main gates open- so if you are looking to get to the front of the General Admission area, this could be an option. However, keep in mind you will still be quite far back.
Viewing Platform (main stage)
For wheelchair users and those with disabilities that the group level viewing area is not suitable for there is a viewing platform at the main stage. Tickets are sold in pairs and include a free Personal Assistant pass.
Ground Level viewing area
For festival goers with a disability there is a hard standing area which can be used if you would like to stand but prefer a less crowded area or the option of sitting down at times.
These tickets get you nearer the stage with an exclusive standing area in front of the main arena but usually behind the Diamond Circle. You can also move between the Gold Circle and general admission section (handy if some of your friends don’t want to cough up for Gold Circle ticket)
With a dedicated entrance you can avoid most of the queues and get into the venue fairly quickly. Sometimes these tickets allow early access into the venue, usually an hour before the main gates open to General Admission ticket holders.
You have access to all the bars, food stands and toilets in the main arena.
In recent years there has also been a Gold VIP Hideaway which gives you access to an exclusive area with seating, private bar and separately toilet facilities.
Are the golden circle tickets worth it? Yes and no. It does get you closer to the stage but depending on the layout for the particular show you are going to, you still might be some way back from the stage. That said, it will be a better view than being in the main General Admission crowd so you may feel that is worth the extra cost.
Note: Not all shows have a Diamond Circle.
With the Diamond Circle viewing area directly in front of the stage, these are the tickets you might want to consider if your favourite artist or band is playing.
As well as being right in the action in front of the stage, you have access to the Summer Garden. At the side of the main area, this exclusive area has a lot of seating, more bars and food stands and a better quality of toilet facilities (and with less queues)
You can move between the viewing area and summer garden as often as you wish. So you don’t have to worry about spending hours in one spot desperate for the loo. You can also head into to the main area and use the bars, food stands and amenities there.
There is a dedicated entrance for Diamond Circle ticket holders, which opens an hour before the main entrance opens to the General Admission customers.
For 2023, there was also a Diamond VIP Hideaway which offers tickets holders another exclusive area with more seating and a private bar.
However, these are the most expensive tickets so there is a cost to all that exclusivity and the chance to be right at the front.
I bought the Diamond Circle for the first time in 2019 for Robbie Williams. I spent six months moaning about spending so much for a ticket only to declare it money well spent after the show.
Having spent many other shows there in general admission hardly being able to see the stage and spending half the day queuing for drinks or the toilets, avoiding all that was well worth the cost of the ticket.
It was so much nicer being able to relax in the summer garden, go into the main arena just to see the acts you wanted to see and actually be able to see the stage and not watch the show on the screens.
On the flip side of this, I did same for Take That in 2023. Unfortunately this experience was not the same.
A runway out to a B stage split the Diamond and Gold sections, so each faced onto one half of the stage. The gold circle also fanned out around the front of the B stage and across the width of the arena giving that area much better sightlines to the stage.
Shortly before Take That were due on stage there was a surge of people into the Diamond Circle, many of them pushing through to get close to the stage. It became very crowded with little room to move or even see anything.
I popped out to the summer garden during the show and walking through the crowd and into the garden, it felt like the space wasn’t big enough to accommodate everyone.
I ended up being pinned in at the back of the section with a very poor view. I couldn’t tell you if the show was any good because I couldn’t really see any of it. All I can say is that it sounded good.
All in all it wasn’t a very ‘Diamond’ experience.
I’d actually go as far as saying it was one of the worst concert experiences I have had and certainly wasn’t worth the cost of the ticket.
So, it can be a bit hit and miss when splashing out on these tickets. Depending on the layout and the artists fanbase it can either be a great experience or a poor one.
Which doesn’t really help when deciding what tickets to buy. However, it is something to bear in mind so you can hopefully avoid any disappointment on the day.
American Express Summer Garden
Buying a ticket with access to the summer garden gives you the opportunity to avoid the bulk of the crowds. It also makes it much easier to get a drink & go to the loo throughout the day. And trust me it’s a long day.
As well as an exclusive area with seating, bars and food outlets, there is a dedicated entrance which opens hour before the main gates.
Possibly it’s best selling point (other than being able to get close to the stage) is that you get a better quality toilet in here. With little to no queues.
So if you are not a fan of festival toilets you might want to think about upgrading your ticket.
The ALL Terrace – Accor Live Limitless
The Great British summer can be a bit hit & miss weather wise. Going to an outdoor concert like this you need to be prepared for the chance of a shower (or even a downpour).
If the rain really isn’t your thing there is a partially covered tiered grandstand where you can sit and watch the show from. Here, you’ll be able to avoid the worst of the weather and get a great view of the stage.
You’ll also have access to the summer garden so you get the best of both worlds. Again, there is a dedicated entrance for this area which gives access to the site an hour before the general admission ticket holders.
VIP / Hospitality Tickets
If you really want to make the day special you can splash out on a hospitality package.
These offers are often a bit pricey but you get pre show hospitality including food & drinks in a nearby hotel.
Show and hotel packages
If you are travelling down from outside London it’s worth considering a ticket & hotel experience.
You book it in one go usually with a choice of nearby hotels and ticket options.
Having been to BST Hyde Park a few times, and learnt the hard way what to do and what not to do, here are some tips to help you have the best experience on the day.
- Take an empty water bottle with you. There are free drinking water refill points dotted around the site.
- Take a blanket in with you. Unless you have a grandstand ticket you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting down on the grass.
- Don’t worry about taking lots of cash with you, the bars and food concessions take contactless payment.
- You can’t take any food in (except baby food). You won’t starve though, in fact, you’ll be spoilt for choice with all the (slightly overpriced) different food concessions
- Be prepared for all weathers. There is no shade so don’t forget your sunscreen if it’s a hot day. Pack a rain coat if the forecast is wet.
- Don’t panic if you lose your friends. There is an official meeting point inside the welfare tent. So, before going in, arrange with your friends that if anyone gets lost (and trust me, someone is bound to) that is the place to head too.
- Don’t be surprised if you can’t use your phone. The phone signal isn’t always that great in there. 65,000 people all trying to insta or Tik Tok that shot of the main act is bound to put a strain on the network.
- Take a spare phone battery. It’s a long day and even if you are at the back you’ll probably end up taking lots of photos. Nothing more annoying if you battery has run out before the main act or on the way home.
- Have a great time!
How to get to Hyde Park
Getting to Hyde Park couldn’t be easier. The park is right in the middle of Central London. The concert venue is on the east side of Hyde Park (along Park Lane) and is well connected to public transport.
Nearest tube stations are
- Marble Arch
- Hyde Park Corner
- Bond Street
- Green Park
If you have a general admission ticket, the main entrance is usually the Marble Arch end.
For the summer garden entrance, Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner are best.
After the show it’s pretty crowded with everyone heading home. Try to avoid the nearer stations and walk a stop or two down the line. There are usually no queues to get in those stations and easier to get on a tube.
I’ve headed to Bond Street, Oxford Circus & Piccadilly Circus in the past and been able to jump on a tube fairly quickly.
You can also reach Hyde Park easily by bus. There are stops along Park Lane, Knightsbridge and Oxford Street. Just keep in mind there may be some road closures after the show so you might need to walk outside the immediate area to pickup a bus.