53 Excellent Things To Do In London This Month: October 2022

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53 Excellent Things To Do In London This Month: October 2022
A person dressed in a newspaper print suit, with a black and white Day of the Dead style skull mask. People in the background hold colourful umbrellas, as if at a festival.
Kew celebrates all things Mexican. Photo: Jon Lee

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: October is Black History Month, honouring the all-too-often unheralded accomplishments of Black Britons in all fields throughout history. It's national, with events running all year, but things happening in London this month can be found on the Black History Month site. Highlights include a tour looking at the City's links to the slave trade, a Black history bus tour, and Africa Fashion Week. 1-31 October

MONTH OF THE DEAD: Halloween may not be until the end of October, but London Month of the Dead goes on all month. Informative, entertaining, and often pretty creepy — the festival enthuses on the subject of death, through talks, cemetery tours, screenings and workshops. There's often a free gin in the mix, too. 1-31 October

MEXICO: Kew Gardens hosts a month-long celebration of Mexico and all things Mexican within its Temperate House. Art and plant installations are dotted throughout the glass house, showcasing different aspects of Mexican culture. There are also special weekend and late-night events including live music from an all-female mariachi band, and a special Mexican menu at the gardens' Pavilion Bar and Grill. 1-31 October

A long walkway through a park, with red and orange leaves covering the ground
All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey... Image: Shutterstock

KOREAN CULTURE MONTH: Foyles on Charing Cross Road teams up with the Korean Cultural Centre for Korean Culture Month. Traditional items from the country are on display throughout the store, with performances and cultural workshops throughout the month. 1-31 October

LONDON RESTAURANT FESTIVAL: London Restaurant Festival runs for the entirety of October, with eateries across the capital putting on special menus. There are usually plenty of events, too, including restaurant-hopping tours, tastings and masterclasses. Keep an eye on the website for details. 1-31 October

BACKYARD CINEMA: 'A mystical train journey towards the top of the world' is what we're promised at Backyard Cinema's autumn season. The Wandsworth-based cinema company's productions rarely disappoint, with giant beanbags provided, and a choice of cult classic and new release films to choose from throughout the run. 1 October-15 November

CATFORD LITERARY FESTIVAL: Hear from 15 authors in 30 hours at the Catford Literary Festival. They include Evening Standard restaurant critic Jimi Famurewa, who discusses his new book, Settlers: Journeys Through the Food, Faith & Culture of Black African London. Local food writers Rinku Dutt, Helen Graves and Rebecca Seal, make an appearance too. You can also hear a talk from three debut writers on their experiences of being published for the first time. Browse the full programme. 1-2 October

An astronaut dressed in a space suit with a mirrored helmet
Delve into the world of science fiction © Science Museum Group

LUCIAN FREUD: The National Gallery hosts the first major exhibition of Lucian Freud's work in a decade, showing paintings spanning 70 years. Lucian Freud: New Perspectives includes his early and intimate works, his well-known, large-scale canvasses and his monumental naked portraits. 1 October-January 2023

LONDON MARATHON: The world-famous London Marathon still isn't back on schedule after the pandemic disruption, so once again takes place in autumn rather than spring. The route remains the same, beginning in Blackheath and passing landmarks including the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace. Even if you're not running or spectating, be aware of road closures across London on the day. 2 October

NFL IN LONDON: In addition to two games (Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers vs New York Giants) at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a third NFL in London game takes place in Wembley Stadium this year (Jacksonville Jaguars vs Denver Broncos). At time of writing, Tottenham tickets have sold out but some Wembley Stadium tickets are still available. 2-30 October

A woman in a red and white 1960s-style dress posing in front of a maroon classic car in Granary Square
The Classic Car Boot Sale is back in King's Cross

ROUNDHOUSE RISING: For more than a decade, the annual Roundhouse Rising festival has showcased and supported diverse music talent through gigs, workshops and industry events. That continues this year, with performances on four different evenings, and tickets for £1 for under-30s. 4-8 October

DECORATIVE FAIR: 150 specialist dealers descend on Evolution in Battersea Park for the Decorative Fair. Browse and buy antiques, design and art pieces dating from the 1700s to the 1970s. 4-9 October

DICKENS AND GHOSTS: Just in time for spooky season, the Charles Dickens Museum opens an exhibition about Dickens, ghosts and the supernatural. To Be Read at Dusk examines the author's interest in the paranormal, which resulted in him publishing more than 20 ghost tales. Items on display include a copy of The Chimes which he gifted to Hans Christian Andersen. 5 October-5 March

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: The 66th incarnation of the BFI London Film Festival takes place at various venues on South Bank and the West End, with some events also screened on BFI Player after the festival, for those who can't make it in person. The full programme has yet to be announced, but will include red carpet nights, gala screenings and a special exhibition. 5-16 October

K-MUSIC: Tying in with the V&A's new exhibition, Hallyu! The Korean Wave, the K-Music Festival comes to venues across town, organised by the Korean Cultural Centre. Sadly, K-Pop supergroup BTS aren't on the programme, but it is a chance to experience pansori (Korea's traditional opera), the yanggeum (Korean metal-stringed zither), and drummer Sun-Mi Hong. 5 October-24 November

A woman working on some needlework or embroidery, using red thread on a white background
The Mental Wealth Festival is back at City Lit

KNITTING AND STITCHING SHOW: Needles ready for The Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally, which has hundreds of exhibitors selling supplies including yarn, fabric, buttons, fat quarters, sewing machines and more. Get inspired in the galleries, displaying works by textile artists and groups. 6-9 October

SCIENCE FICTION: Science Museum goes immersive for Science Fiction: Voyage To The Edge Of Imagination, which places visitors at the heart of a science fiction adventure, guided by an artificial intelligence of alien origin. See authentic objects from films, TV, books, paintings, artworks and photos, all related to the sci-fi genre. 6 October-May 2023

FRAMELESS: New immersive art experience Frameless opens in Marble Arch, inviting you to step inside some of the world's best-known paintings. More than 479 million pixels are used to recreate works by the likes of Canaletto, Monet, Rembrandt, Mondrian and others, with accompanying music played over surround sound speakers. From 7 October

HARRY POTTER IN CONCERT: The sixth film in the wizarding world franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, gets the concert treatment at the Royal Albert Hall. Watch the film in high-definition on the large screen, while a symphony orchestra performs the soundtrack live in front of you. 7-9 October

NEW SCIENTIST LIVE: Climate change, eugenics, tropical diseases, canine intelligence, black holes and the importance of wasps are just some of the topics covered at this year's New Scientist Live. Across three days, experts from all manner of fields give talks on their topics, at ExCeL London. 7-9 October

A man in a white shirt and woman in a black dress Tango dancing together on a dimly lit  stage, with a deep red curtain as a backdrop
Experience Argentina with Tango After Dark. Photo: Federico Paleo

DANCE UMBRELLA: International festival Dance Umbrella returns to venues across London, for performances with a particular focus on intersectional, diverse, innovative, international and national female dancemakers. 7-23 October

CLASSIC CAR BOOT SALE: If you're into vintage vehicles, and retro clothing and homewares, get yourself down to the Classic Car Boot Sale in Granary Square, King's Cross. All manner of classic cars park up, with vintage fashion sold from the boot, plus live DJ sets, street food trucks and a Routemaster bus bar. A repair shop and a charity market are among the new features this time round. 8-9 October

ROYAL PARKS HALF: 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 closed-off roads around central London. Get yourself a place via a charity, or turn up on the day to support the runners. 9 October

DIWALI: Although Diwali falls on 24 October this year, London's official celebrations in Trafalgar Square take place on 9 October, with live music, dancing, street food and more. Keep an eye on our event listings for details of other Diwali celebrations around town. FREE, 9 October/24 October

A man viewing photographs which are mounted on an exposed brick wall
Over 100 photographers show their work at the London Photo Show

MENTAL WEALTH FESTIVAL: On World Mental Health Day, City Lit launches its Mental Wealth Festival, with a focus on the time you have and how to use it through workshops, talks, discussions, exhibitions, and other activities. All events are either free or low-cost, and include yoga, singing and meditation. 10-14 October

TANGO AFTER DARK: German Cornejo's Tango After Dark is a celebration of Argentina's sensuous national dance, with some of the world's best tango stars whirling their way to the Peacock Theatre to take part, with music by the great composer Astor Piazzolla. 11-22 October

ART FAIRS: Two of London's biggest art fairs are going down in October, bringing members of the art industry from all over the globe back to the capital. Frieze London (12-16 October) sets up shop in Regent's Park, with galleries showcasing work by contemporary artists in a variety of mediums. Over in east London, The Other Art Fair (13-16 October) takes over the Old Truman Brewery, with a focus on artworks available for all budgets, from over 100 artists.

LONDON PHOTO SHOW: Amateur and independent photographers display their work at the London Photo Show, alongside that of professionals. Over 100 photographers take part, with images on themes of wildlife, architecture, fashion and travel on display at Bargehouse Gallery, Oxo Tower. FREE, 13-16 October

A woman smiling as she shakes a cocktail shaker at London Cocktail Week
Raise a glass to London Cocktail Week

LONDON COCKTAIL WEEK: London Cocktail Week claims to be the biggest cocktail festival in the world, and who are we to argue? Buy yourself a festival wristband for £15 to get unlimited access to £7 signature cocktails in more than 300 bars across the capital. There are also cocktail tours, special menus and other events going on. 13-23 October

HIEROGLYPHS: Marking 200 years since the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs — and, coincidentally, a century since the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb — the British Museum hosts Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt. Find out how our understanding of human history was expanded by 3,000 years once we could decode hieroglyphs, and the work that went into getting to that point.13 October-February 2023

Two women putting the finishing touches to a canvas artwork, mounted on the wall at Somerset House
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House. Photo by Jim Winslet. Courtesy of 1-54

AFRICAN ART FAIR: 50 exhibitors from 21 different countries descend on Somerset House for 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. See work by African artists across a range of mediums including painting, sculpture and installation. Works from established artists such as Ibrahim El-Salahi, Hassan Hajjaj, and Zanele Muholi sit alongside pieces by young and emerging artists. 14-16 October

BLOOMSBURY FESTIVAL: 'Breathe' is the theme of this year's Bloomsbury Festival, celebrating creativity in the local area. It kicks off with a garden party on Store Street, open to everyone, and includes guided walks, a silent calligraphy session, live music and singing workshops, across the nine days. Some events FREE, 14-23 October

HALLOWEEN TRAIL: Things get spooky ahead of Halloween at Chiswick House and Gardens, which hosts a Halloween trail for the first time. Head to the gardens after dark for a family-friendly adventure with glowing pumpkins, a fire garden and fire artists. If that doesn't warm you up, there's hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows too. 14-30 October

KING ARTHUR: New exhibition The Legend of King Arthur: A Pre-Raphaelite Love Story visits Walthamstow's William Morris Gallery on the first stop of a nationwide tour. It looks at how Pre-Raphaelite artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Arthur Hughes, John William Waterhouse and William Morris presented the legend of King Arthur, alongside lesser-known female Pre-Raphaelite artists Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale and Elizabeth Siddal. FREE, 14 October-January 2023

Outside in the dark, a pyrotechnic performer with fire in one hand and a crystal ball in the other
Halloween comes early to Chiswick House and Gardens

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: Hot on the heels of Tate's Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition, the Design Museum offers its own take on the genre with Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924-Today. It explores how one of the 20th century's most influential movements came to impact design, with works by Salvador Dalí, Dora Maar and Man Ray featuring. 14 October-February 2023

EXECUTIONS: A new exhibition at Museum of London Docklands looks at the history of capital punishment in London. Executions covers 700 years of history, telling the stories of those who died, with the vest said to have been worn by King Charles I when he was executed among the objects on display. 14 October-April 2023

LEIGHTON HOUSE REOPENS: Following a lengthy closure and an £8m transformation, Leighton House in Holland Park reopens to the public, along with nearby sister museum Sambourne House. Leighton House was the studio-house of Victorian artist and former President of the Royal Academy Frederic Leighton, and is known for its opulent interiors. Previously unseen rooms and new exhibition spaces will be available to the public when it reopens. From 15 October

A close-up shot of Malorie Blackman's face, smiling at the camera
Malorie Blackman is on the programme at London Literature Festival. Photo: Paul Akinrinlola

DISCOVER DOGS: Bow wow wow your way over to ExCeL London for Discover Dogs, a celebration of all things canine. There's plenty for dog owners, with exhibitors selling all sorts of useful items, but it's also a great chance for would be dog owners to learn more about having a pet, and to meet different breeds to see which is right for them. 15-16 October

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY: One of our favourite annual exhibitions, Wildlife Photographer of the Year returns to the Natural History Museum for its 58th incarnation. See photos of animals and the natural world taken by photographers all over the globe, including the overall winners (announced on 11 October). 15 October-June 2023

SEEING AUSCHWITZ: Seeing Auschwitz focuses on the horrors committed at Auschwitz under the Nazi regime. It highlights that although the atrocities happened 80 years ago, the lessons are as relevant to today as they were then. Part of the revenue generated will be donated to Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. From 20 October

LONDON LITERATURE FESTIVAL: A highlight of the literary calendar, the annual London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre never fails to bring in big names. Minnie Driver, Graham Norton, Malorie Blackman, Rob Delaney, Nick Cave and Greta Thunberg all feature this year, along with creative workshops and games, kids' events, and a chance to hear from the newly-announced Booker Prize Winner. 20-30 October

Woman and young girl sitting in front of an Elmer artwork on a museum wall, with other Elmer artworks on display in the next room
Elmer comes to Horniman Museum. Image: Seven Stories

ELMER: One for families with younger children, Horniman Museum unveils an exhibition celebrating the works of children's author David McKee, with Elmer the Elephant taking centre stage. There's plenty for older generations too, with Mr Benn and King Rollo featuring. 21 October-April 2023

CLOSE TO HOME: Hundreds of dancers of all ages weave together real-life stories of migration, community, activism and history at Close to Home, part of Lewisham Borough of Culture. Head to Sedgehill Academy in Bellingham for the outdoor performances, and a weekend of celebrations. FREE, 22-30 October

HALF TERM: The school break falls over the last week of October, meaning there will be plenty of family-friendly events taking place around London. Look out for our half term guide closer to the time. 22-30 October

ICE RINK: With more than two months to go until Christmas, the first of London's seasonal ice rinks opens for business. Ice Rink Canary Wharf is located at the foot of east London's skyscrapers, below hundreds of fairy lights. Oh, and it has a roof, meaning rain won't stop play. 22 October-February 2023

THE HORROR SHOW: 200 artworks and culturally significant objects feature in The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain — a major new exhibition at Somerset House. It explores the British cultural psyche in three acts, Monster, Ghost and Witch, looking back at the horror genre over the last 50 years and how it has reacted to the most troubling times. 27 October-February 2023

A black background and composite image of several photographs and artworks, including a cat holding a sign saying 'I'm dead'
The Horror Show! © Barnbrook; Somerset House

MCM COMIC CON: Dust off your cape and check your superhero outfit still fits — MCM Comic Con is back at ExCeL London. Immerse yourself in three days of all things pop culture, including a chance to meet TV and film stars, hear from industry insiders at panel discussions, take part in games, and show off your cosplay costume. 28-30 October

CHINESE FOOD FESTIVAL: Head to Bedford Square Gardens to try all manner of dishes at the Chinese Food Festival. Brands repping the different regions and cuisines of the country can be found in the Food Carnival area. There are also lantern making and woodblock printing workshops, a craft market, and live performances. 28-30 October This event has been cancelled.

HALLOWEEN: Expect to see plenty of pumpkins, ghosts and witches around town as October draws to a close and Halloween celebrations take over. We'll bring you our guide to London's best Halloween events closer to the time, so keep checking back. 31 October

Four people dressed an Mutant Ninja turtle characters pose with a young boy dressed in a Spiderman costume
Get those costumes out for MCM Comic Con... and then again for Halloween

LAST CHANCE: A few things are closing this month too. It's your last chance to see:

AUTUMN IN LONDON See London's trees turning red and feel the leaves crunching under your feet on one of these gorgeous autumn walks around the capital. Find other autumn things to do with our guide to the best things to do in London this autumn.

Last Updated 31 October 2022

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