It’s time to head down to the beach at JW3

The Hampstead institution’s beach comes complete with deck chairs, paddling pools and in-house food, says Bridget Galton.

The urban beach has become as much a part of summer in the capital as open air cinemas and roof top bars.

For parents stuck in the hot city with kids to entertain during the long summer holidays, they can offer a welcome oasis without the hassle of having to sit in traffic queues en route to Clacton or Brighton.

This year there’s a new stretch of beach at Brent Cross with the benefit of free parking. It boasts 250 tonnes of sand, deckchairs, a paddling pool, palm trees and fairground rides to suit all ages, including a traditional helter skelter and a hair-raising rollercoaster.

Ice-cream, fish and chips, food stalls and a Pimms bar are also on site alongside traditional Punch’n’Judy shows, jugglers, stilt walkers, fire breathers and Brazilian dancers channelling the spirit of copacabana.

Entry £3 per person, once inside you can buy tokens for the rides. Open daily 10-Noon, until September 2.

At JW3 in Finchley Road, the sandy stretch on the forecourt – modelled on the laid back Tel Aviv beach scene – returns this year and has free entry with deck chairs, paddling pool, cocktails and food by in-house restaurant Zest served from a beach hut.

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Throughout the summer there are also ticketed family-friendly events including on July 31 Kabbalat Shabbat on the Beach with music and activities, a Hebrew singalong on August 2, a 30-minute performance on August 9 by a running, dancing panto horse, and Noah’s Ark story and craft time on August 16 for 2-7-year-olds with puppets.

The beach is open Sunday to Thursday 9-10.30pm, Fridays 9-5 and is closed on Saturdays, until August 31.

Adult entertainment can be found at the summer oasis on the roof of the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm.

For the last four years the so-called Camden Beach has boasted 900sqm (150 tonnes) of golden sand with tasty pop-up restaurants, deckchairs, beach huts, and ping pong.

Thanks to this year’s partnership with Stolichnaya Vodka there’s a stoli lemonade van serving ice-cold alcoholic drinks alongside a craft ale and cider bar, a Lavazza coffee bar and Gelupo ice-cream.

Entry is free but there are often queues around the block on hot days to get in. Booking a beach hut with your own fenced off area, a fridge full of drinks and fish and chips guarantees a spot.

Although it’s more adult than child-friendly, Roundhouse Spokesperson, James Heaton said: “Profits from the Beach help us in our work to enable 3,000 11-25s to realise their creative potential each year, so it’s a great way to have fun in the sun while supporting the Roundhouse.”

Entry is free, open from 5pm – 11pm on Mondays & Tuesdays and 12pm – 11pm Wednesday to Sunday until August 23,

For those venturing further afield there are also child-friendly urban beaches on the Southbank and at the former Olympic Park in Stratford.