A Guide to the City of London FestivalThere are many good reasons to rent a holiday flat in London – and one of the best is the City of London Festival, held for three weeks every June and July, this arts and cultural extravaganza has been entertaining Londoners and visitors alike for over 50 years.

The Best of British and Beyond

Showcasing over 60 of London’s distinctive buildings and open spaces, with a programme featuring a dazzling range of classical music, there is also a strong showing of world music, opera, ballet, jazz, soul, drum ‘n bass, contemporary dance, film, lectures and exhibitions, plus processions, tours and themed walks. More than 100 free events are held outdoors in the brilliant mid-summer sunshine. The acts include everything from full orchestras to acrobatic artists and unicycle riding saxophonists. Previous favourites have included The London Symphony Orchestra, The Brodsky Quartet and The Sydney Dance Company.

Alongside the main festival, there’s the Devonshire Square Summerfest, an eccentric series of free events, including Avant Gardening, a hilarious blend of live music and do-it-yourself gardening.

The Festival’s programme often reflects a central theme, frequently focusing on one of Britain’s trading partners.

One outstanding feature of recent festivals is the installation of 50 pianos dotted around the Square Mile – each bearing the invitation, Play Me I’m Yours, which thousands enthusiastically accept. The pianos were an installation devised by British artist Luke Jerram, who encouraged the players to photograph and blog their experiences of their interactions with the pianos. There is no confirmation yet on whether Jerram’s pianos will be back in 2013, but there is little doubt that the next festival won’t be doing things by halves.

Flat Out in London

During the festival, the city plays host to over 100,000 visitors, which means short-term accommodation will be at a premium. So if you are planning to rent a holiday flat in London, it will pay to book well ahead. There is a huge range, from modest bed-sits to large apartments. Most of them subtly blend home comforts and privacy with hotel-standard luxury. And many will be within walking or tube distance from the festivities.

Picture: Jaume Alemany – Fotolia