The Best Things To Do In London This Autumn

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 21 months ago

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The Best Things To Do In London This Autumn

Between the joys of summer's outdoor cinemas and bars, and the excitement of Christmas, there's a little thing called autumn. We've pulled together some of the best events happening in London in September, October and November 2019 to keep you going as the nights get darker and the days get colder.

Cultural events in London in autumn

Chihuly Nights at Kew Gardens

CHIHULY NIGHTS: A special series of late night openings at Kew Gardens invites visitors to see Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures in a whole new light (or lack thereof). Chihuly Nights sees Kew Gardens staying open late and the sculptures illuminated under the evening sky to showcase their dazzling colours. 15 August-26 October 2019

LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: Various locations across London host parts of London Design Festival. Look out for the colourful Walala Lounge in South Molton Street, live mural painting on Tottenham Court Road, and design tours of Westminster Cathedral. 14-22 September 2019

UNDERBELLY: The summer festival of theatre, circus, comedy and more rumbles on next to the Thames through September. Our picks for the final month include Granarchist Bingo, Voices of Bond and the slightly trippy Lovely Bug Ball. Until 29 September 2019

ART FAIRS: London's awash with art fairs in autumn, the big daddy of which is Frieze (3-6 October). The sculpture park has already been up and running for a couple of months, but come October, the marquees will be back in Regent's Park. The focus is on contemporary and living artists at this fair. Meanwhile, Moniker Art Fair (2-6 October) takes over The Chelsea Sorting Office, focusing on urban contemporary art, and The Other Art Fair (3-6 October) is a chance to buy directly from the artist.

Historic scenes are projected on to St Paul's Cathedral

BFI FILM FEST: The BFI London Film Festival is a big event in the cinephile calendar, bringing some of the best new films in the world to the capital. The full programme for 2019 includes 345 films, including 28 world premieres, and a new take on a Dickens classic for the gala opening night. 2-13 October 2019

WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS: Historic scenes are projected onto the exterior of St Paul's Cathedral for three nights only. Where The Light Falls is a free event, commemorating those who risked their lives to keep the cathedral safe during the war. 25-27 October

MUSEUMS AT NIGHT: Saatchi Gallery, the RAF Museum and Sir John Soane's Museum are just some of the London venues keeping their doors open after hours for lates, talks, workshops and more for Museums at Night. Keep an eye on this page for the full London programme. 31 October-2 November 2019

Look out for costumes on the tube as Comic Con returns

COMIC CON: Look out for all manner of outfits on the tube come October. MCM Comic Con is back at ExCel. Gaming, cosplay, TV and film fans are all catered for with talks, meet and greets, special guests and more. 25-27 October 2019

LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL: From jazz masters to cutting-edge musicians, the whole jazz spectrum will be on show at this festival celebrating the music genre. Performances include a rare London concert by the legendary Herbie Hancock and a kids' fairytale show. 15-24 November 2019

THANKSGIVING 2019: The American holiday falls on 28 November this year, and whether you're an American ex-pat or just a dedicated Yankophile, find your favourite American dishes and meals here in London. 28 November 2019

Family events in London in autumn

Look out for Fireworks Night events at several London locations, including Alexandra Palace

TOTALLY THAMES: This month-long celebration of London's river is back. Highlights include concerts in the Tower Bridge Bascule Chamber, a river swim, a chance to peek inside a lifeboat station, and much more. Plenty of events are free, and lots are family-friendly. 1-30 September 2019

FIREWORKS NIGHT: Whizzbangs and kabooms will be going off all over London around 5 November. Find out where to get your fix of oohs and aahs with our list of firework displays in London.

ENCHANTED WOODLAND: A family-friendly light festival, consisting of a mile-long route winding around the ornamental lake at Syon Park, where the trees are illuminated in all colours. 15 November-1 December 2019

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland begins in November

WINTER WONDERLAND: Love it or hate it, the all singing, all dancing Christmas market/fun fair/beer hall/ice rink/circus show is coming back to Hyde Park for another season. It may seem a bit premature, but if you're thinking of going this year, we recommend going early in its run — the closer to Christmas you go, the busier it'll be. 21 November 2019-5 January 2020

CHRISTMAS AT KEW 2019: Christmas at Kew begins in November, when the gorgeous light trail is switched on for the festive period. Wander through the gardens after dark, following the twinkling lights, warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine, and let the kids have a go on the Victorian funfair. One of our favourite winter events in London every year, and well worth booking. 20 November 2019-5 January 2020

Sport events in London in autumn

NFL is back in London for four games. Image: Shutterstock

ICE HOCKEY: September sees the start of the ice hockey season again, with four teams to watch here in London. Here's everything you need to know before you go to your first match.

ROYAL PARKS HALF: Now in its 11th year, the Royal Parks Half Marathon takes runners on a route through four of the eight Royal Parks (Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park, Kensington Gardens), and other closed roads around central London. Get yourself a place via a charity, or turn up on the day to support the runners. 13 October 2019

NFL IN LONDON: NFL is visiting London from America again this autumn, with eight teams playing at Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur's Stadium over four weekends. Tickets to the stadiums have sold out, but look out for plenty of viewing parties and events. 6 October-3 November 2019

SIX DAY SERIES: Cycling meets party time in the Six Day, a track cycling event at the Lee Valley VeloPark, where the lights get turned down and the music gets turned up as the cyclists take to the track. 22-27 October 2019

ICE SKATING: London's Christmas ice rinks start opening from October — first up is the Natural History Museum, which usually opens in time for half term (this year's details TBC). Here's our complete guide to where you can take to the ice this autumn and winter.

London events in autumn

The Regent Street Motor Show rolls into town

DOGGETT'S COAT AND BADGE: This annual event has been going on for 300 years. Up to six rowers will race, using sculling boats, between London Bridge and Albert Bridge, a route which takes approximately half an hour. Why not head down to the water to cheer them on. 4 September 2019

OPEN HOUSE: We love Open House London — every year, it's a chance to go inside buildings, up skyscrapers and down tunnels that are usually off limits to the public. For the really popular ones, you'll need to book as soon as tickets go on sale, for others, it's just a case of turning up on the day and hoping there's not a queue — these are our picks. 21-22 September 2019

The Pearly Kings and Queens celebrate harvest

HARVEST FESTIVAL: Marching bands, Morris dancers and maypole dancing are just some of the entertainers at the Pearly Kings and Queens' Harvest Festival in Guildhall Yard. 29 September 2019

SHEEP DRIVE: Michael Portillo. Herding Sheep. Over London Bridge. What more can we say? More details here. 29 September 2019

REGENT STREET MOTOR SHOW: Whether you're a massive petrolhead, are looking for a few new snaps for Instagram, or just enjoy the novelty of a traffic-free Regent Street, head down there to see vehicles dating back through 125 years of motoring. 2 November 2019

Pomp and pageantry at the Lord Mayor's Show

LORD MAYOR'S SHOW: If you thought the royal wedding was a load of pomp and pageantry, wait until you see the Lord Mayor's Show. The event marks the outgoing Lord Mayor being replaced by the new Lord Mayor, and takes the form of a river pageant, followed by a procession. 9 November 2019

REMEMBRANCE: There are always special events in London around 11 November, to mark Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day. This year's details will be announced here in due course.

Autumn food and drink events

Oh hi there, London Cocktail Week

TOWER FOOD FESTIVAL: There's a food festival in the Tower of London moat, with dozens of food stalls, celebrity chefs, cookery demonstrations, tastings, live music and kids' activities. 12-15 September 2019

LONDON COCKTAIL WEEK: So powerful is the draw of London Cocktail Week that one member of Team Londonist has been known to book the entire week of work, to free herself up for maximum indulgence. The action centres around the Cocktail Village on Brick Lane, but your festival pass will also get your £6 cocktails in 300 bars around the city. 4-13 October 2019

VegFest comes to Olympia

VEGFEST: One of the largest vegan lifestyle festivals in Europe, VegFest brings 325 exhibitors plus speakers and specialist chefs to Olympia, aimed at those living (or considering) a vegan lifestyle. 26-27 October 2019

LONDON RESTAURANT FESTIVAL: London Restaurant Festival runs for the entirety of October. Over 250 restaurants across the capital run special menus, and there are over 60 special events including restaurant-hoping tours, tastings and masterclasses. 1-31 October 2019

Last Updated 03 September 2019