Things To Do In London This Week: 15-21 November 2021

By M@

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Things To Do In London This Week: 15-21 November 2021

All week

Ice skaters on a nightime illuminated rink, which is purple with white swirls. In the background, the orange-glowing classical facade of Somerset House frames the rink.
Image: Somerset House.

ICE SKATING: London’s winter ice skating rinks are popping up all over the place. This week, Somerset House (17 November), Queen’s House Greenwich (18 November), Winter Wonderland and Hampton Court Palace (both 19 November) all freeze over, to join the ice rinks already up and running.

WILTON'S LIVE: There are few spaces in London as intimate and atmospheric as Wilton's Music Hall. What better place to catch singer Camille O'Sullivan, who performs songs and stories about loss, love, joy, light and darkness over five evenings at the Victorian venue. Wilton's, , £20.50-£25, book ahead, 16-20 November, 7.45pm

TASTE OF LONDON: The foodies' food festival is back at Tobacco Dock for a four-day event to tickle, tantalise and treat the taste buds. With dozens of dishes to try from London's best restaurants, plus diversions such as crazy golf and live music, it's one of the highlights of London's food calendar. Tobacco Dock, from £17, book ahead for timed slots, 18-21 November

Monday 15 November

The famous black and white image of Einstein with a chalk board, only it's been doctored so it looks like he's written 'Oops!'.
Einstein's in-no-way photoshopped blunder (see below)

BRING YOUR OWN BABY: For new parents who feel they're missing out on live stand up, BYOB Comedy needs to be on your radar. Have a laugh with some excellent comedians including Wendy Wason and Jen Brister, in a setting that won't judge you for loud crying or breast feeding. Vaudeville Theatre (Covent Garden), £12, book ahead, 11.30am

COSMOLOGY: Ever heard of 'Einstein's blunder'? It's a term often used to describe the cosmological constant, a number Einstein added to his equations as a kind of fudge-factor, to make them balance. The blunder may not be so misguided as once thought, though, as Professor Roberto Trotter essays in this week's Gresham talk. Online event, free, book ahead, 1pm-2pm

CRACKIN' THE USSR: It's 30 years since the Soviet Union fragmented. What caused this seismic shift in geopolitics? Was it inevitable? And what have the main repercussions been? Join four professors at LSE (via livestream) to chew over the Iron Curtain (not literally). Online event, free, book ahead, 6pm-7.30pm

YET MORE COSMOLOGY: The Universe isn't only unfathomably large, but much of it is also invisible. Join astronomer Dr Matthew Bothwell in the Royal Institution's famous lecture hall (or watch online) for what promises to be an insightful talk into that which cannot be sighted. Royal Institution (Mayfair), £16/£10/£7/pay what you can, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm

Tuesday 16 November

A routine photo of the medieval Charterhouse building - lots of bricks and arches and stuff
Charterhouse... about to look a lot more festive (see below). Image by M@.

CHRISTMAS FAIR: London’s Christmas markets and fairs continue apace — today it’s the turn of The Charterhouse, which brings together traders selling crafts, food and drink, clothing, accessories and other gift ideas. Pop by the Charterhouse Christmas Cafe for refreshments after all that shopping. The Charterhouse (Clerkenwell), £5 entry, book ahead, 11am-8pm

NATURE'S NUMBERS: Applying the principles of accountancy to nature might sound like a particularly soulless way to appreciate the environment, but so-called natural capital is a growing and important part of conservation efforts. Prof Jacqueline McGlade is beancounter-in-chief at today's free Gresham lecture. Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn) and online event, free, book ahead, 6pm-7pm

COMEDY FOR CHARITY: Join comedians including Adam Hills, Arthur Smith, Dane Baptiste, John Moloney and Athena Kugblenu for an evening of comedy to raise money for The Comedy School's Wellbeing Project (which helps people with mental health issues through comedy). The Comedy Store. £20, book ahead, 7.30pm

LOST FOOTBALL GROUNDS: Join Footprints of London tour guide Rob Smith for a virtual tour of the lost football grounds of London. He covers well-known places like West Ham's Boleyn Ground and Arsenal's Highbury as well as some of the first of London's football grounds like the homes of Wanderers and Thames Ironworks. Online event, £6-£12, book ahead, 8pm-9pm

Wednesday 17 November

Some illuminated swans are paraded along a crowded street at night.
Greenwich lantern parade. Image Greenwich Market.

LANTERN PARADE: Head to Greenwich Market to see the Christmas lights being switched on. The annual lantern parade is part of the fun too — watch children from local schools showing off lanterns they’ve made, as they proceed through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, accompanied by a jazz band. Other live music performances follow the switch-on. Greenwich Market, free, just turn up, from 4pm

HOLOCAUST: Prof Jan Grabowski is at Gresham College to discuss how historians encounter hostile reactions from states pursuing the policies of Holocaust distortion. This situation has acquired particular urgency in Poland, where the authorities are accused of hindering independent research and intimidating scholars who stray from the official, state-approved historical narrative. Museum of London (or online), free, book ahead,6pm-7pm

NURSES AND WITCHCRAFT: London's Royal College of Nursing hosts an online lecture about the Scottish nurses and midwives who were accused of witchcraft, and punished for helping others and talking about their healing practices, between 1563 and 1736. Online, free, book ahead, 6pm-7.15pm

LONDON QUIZ: Time once again for the annual London Historians Quiz. Written and hosted by Londonist’s very own Matt Brown, expect 50 fiendish questions about London’s history. Christopher Hatton pub (Holborn), £5.98-£8.68, book ahead, 6.30pm-9pm

LONDON EATS: The Museum of London has a mouthwatering event tonight, described as "a marketplace for the exchange of ideas on the universal topic of food". The Ellipse Hall will be transformed into a market with stalls offering food, talks and workshops all on the subject of eating. Museum of London, free, book ahead, 6.30pm-9pm

TUDOR DISABILITY: How were people with disabilities treated in former times? It's a topic that doesn't get much coverage, but historian Phillipa Vincent-Connolly is at the National Archives to sift through the records, with a particular focus on the Tudor period. National Archives (Kew), pay what you can, book ahead, 7.30pm

KEW LIGHTS: And while we're in the Kew area, tonight sees the launch of Kew Gardens' winter lights trail. It sells out quickly each year, so you might not be able to get a slot for a while. Kew Gardens, £21.50-£26.50, book ahead, 4pm-10pm

Thursday 18 November

A cute doggy with its tongue lolling effects a sharp turn on the grass. Don't ask me to give the breed because I don't do dogs.
Dogs like this fellow would not exist without humans. See 'Life as we Made it' below. Image Martin Davies.

FOOTBALL CRAZY: A celebration of football, art, design and culture, Football Crazy, Football Mad features works from over 30 footy-loving artists from around the world. Original artworks and prints are available to buy, plus there's free beer on opening night (that's tonight). Hoxton Arches, free, just turn up, 6pm-10pm, then until 21 November, 10am-6pm

BIG BEN: Find out all about the history and restoration of the famous clock tower (properly called the Elizabeth Tower), in a UK Parliament online talk. Online event, free, book ahead, 6pm

REMARKABLE WOMEN: The lives of four friends — Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch — are examined by Prof Benjamin JB Lipscomb, drawing on his new book The Women Are Up To Something. These women forged a place for themselves in the male-dominated world of academic philosophy. LSE online event, free, book ahead, 6pm-7pm

AND ANOTHER REMARKABLE WOMAN: Heard of Eleanor Coade? She died 200 years ago this week, leaving an architectural legacy unlike any other. Why? Find out at this virtual talk from the Georgian Group. Online event, £3/£5, book ahead, 6.30pm

LIFE AS WE MADE IT: An intriguing Royal Institution talk by Prof Beth Shapiro looks at how humans have modified animals over the centuries — from the creation of dog breeds to modern genetic interventions. Online event, pay what you can, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm

LIVE AUDIO DRAMA: Based on a true story, this one-off audio drama from the National Archives explores repatriation of people from the British West Indies in 1920s Liverpool. It's followed by a Q&A with the writer. Online event, free, book ahead, 7pm

DATING LAFFS: In her own words, Eleanor Conway "does filthy, hilarious shows about sex, addiction and dating". Catch her Vaxxed & Waxxed show tonight in Shoreditch. The Book Club, £8.80, book ahead, 7pm

DOWNTOWN COMEDY: More chuckles in Islington as five pro comedians take to the stage. Catch Adam Bloom, Abi Roberts, Currer Ball, Chin Wang and MC Sheraz Yousaf at Downtown Comedy Club. Day & Night, £10, book ahead, 7.45pm-10.15pm

Friday 19 November

A creepy looking house interior
Brow of a God/Jaw of a Devil: Unsettling the Source of the Nile

SEVEN DIALS: Starting today, and running all weekend, this neighbour of Covent Garden goes into party mode. The Seven Dials Winter Festival includes "glitter stations, pop-up pantos, live music, festive entertainment, free wreath-making, 20% discounts, mulled wine carts, festive menus, late night shopping, interactive light installations and so much more". Seven Dials, free, book ahead for discounts, 19-21 November

GALLERY: After a lengthy closure for refurbishment, The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House reopens today. Once again, the public can see one of the most impressive collections of Impressionist artworks, as well as paintings from the 18th-20th centuries, many of which are now displayed in new rooms and galleries. Somerset House, £9-£11 adult, book ahead, from 19 November

WINTER WONDERLAND: After leaving a gaping hole in Hyde Park last Christmas, Winter Wonderland is back with a vengeance from today. The usual funfair rides, ice rink, circus shows, food and drink stalls and Christmas markets are back, though take note of changes to entry procedures this year. To allow for crowd management, there’s now an entry fee if you visit at busy times — full details here. Hyde Park, various prices, book ahead, 19 November-3 January

LIGHT FANTASTIC: At time of writing, there are still some tickets left to ride the Light Fantastic at the Epping Ongar Railway this Christmas. Head to North Weald station to board a train that’s covered in fairy lights, then weave through the countryside, looking out for other light displays outside the train windows. We expect this one will sell out so don’t hang about if you want tickets. Epping Ongar Railway, £20, book ahead, 19 November-9 January

BROW OF A GOD/JAW OF A DEVIL: In a special late-night opening of Orleans House's new exhibition, Brow of a God/Jaw of a Devil: Unsettling the Source of the Nile, you can get a first look at new works by artist Himali Singh Soin produced in collaboration with historian of science Alexis Rider. It forms a new interpretation of the gallery's Burton collection and the story of the search for the source of the Nile. Orleans House (Twickenham), free, book ahead, 6pm

TUBE SONGS: How many songs can you name that are inspired by (or namecheck) a tube station. Waterloo, Baker Street, King's Cross (by the Pet Shop Boys)... there are quite a few. Swipe your Oysters in the direction of this transport music quiz hosted by DJ and broadcaster Edward Adoo. London Transport Museum, £12, book ahead, 6.30pm-9pm

Saturday 20 November

Black shadowy verticlals suggestive of trees at night on a grey background. The silhouette of a small human figure is to the foreground. It's not a cheery image.
Something wicked this way comes... at the Fortean Society of London today.

THE HAUNTED LANDSCAPE: Join the London Fortean Society and friends for an entire day of talks on British folklore, cursed paths and dark folklore, giants, basilisks, fearsome fairies and witches. In short, you'll meet characters even stranger than those you find on the night bus. Conway Hall (Holborn), £20 (in person), £10 (virtual), book ahead, from 10am

SEA SHANTY FESTIVAL: Prepare for a flashback to the first lockdown, when everyone was suddenly singing sea shanties. Cutty Sark hosts a Sea Shanty Festival today, to celebrate the vessel’s birthday. Sea shanty groups Swinging The Lead and The London Sea Shanty Collective wander between the decks performing traditional working songs. Cutty Sark (Greenwich), included in ship entry, booking required for entry, 10.30am-4pm

CHELSEA CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Today it’s Chelsea’s turn to get lit for Christmas. Head to Duke of York Square and surrounding areas for an afternoon of activities, including live entertainment on a pop-up stage and across the area, and a festive food market. King’s Road is pedestrianised for the afternoon to help you get a head start on your Christmas shopping before the big light switch-on. Here’s our guide to when the rest of London’s Christmas lights are switched on this year. Chelsea, free, just turn up, from 2pm (lights at 5pm)

POETRY: The European Poetry Festival returns to Rich Mix. The event sees 20 poets present 10 new collaborations in pairs. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), free, book ahead, 7pm

TIGER KING CLUBBING: Club de Fromage presents a jungle-themed party to celebrate the return of Tiger King to Netflix. Expect lots of tiger and animal related tunes, and fancy dress is encouraged. Grrrr. O2 Academy (Islington), £7+, book ahead, 10.30pm-3.30am

Sunday 21 November

A robed chaplain blesses a horse
Blessing of the shire horses. Image: HRP.

CEMETERY TOUR: The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery run regular tours of this evocative space, on select Sundays throughout the year. Today is one of those. Small groups of up to 20 will be led by a tour guide who will explain the notable monuments and history of the site. Kensal Green Cemetery £12, book ahead, 2pm-4pm

SHIRE HORSE SUNDAY: Every year, London's only herd of working shire horses are led to Hampton Court Palace where they are blessed by Her Majesty's Chaplain. Why? Because we're British and crazy animal events is what we do. Hampton Court Palace, included in entry price, book ahead, 3pm

PICKPOCKET: Robert Bresson's 1959 film Pickpocket is on at the Prince Charles Cinema. It's about a young man, Michel, who falls in with a group of professional pickpockets and gets a taste for stealing. Other films on at this cinema today include Dr. Strangelove and My Neighbor Totoro. Prince Charles Cinema (Leicester Square), £12.50, book ahead, 7pm

SAM CHAPLIN: Sam Chaplin brings a full band to Bush Hall for the launch of his debut album Back into Life. With influences ranging from Rufus Wainwright and Jamie Cullum to Sam Smith expect honest song-craft, intimate moments and uplifting anthems. Bush Hall (Shepherd's Bush), £22.40, book ahead, 7.30pm

Urban oddity of the week

A Victorian post box painted orange and black to resemble a tiger. A sign asking for donations to London Zoo is in the background with a brown brick wall.

Sticking with the tiger theme (see Saturday), how about this stripy postbox at London Zoo? The Victorian pillar no longer accepts post. Instead, it's been converted into one of London's most striking donation boxes.

Good cause of the week

We see the legs of three models on a catwalk, each wearing a golden dress. Upper bodies not visible.

Ever wanted to go to a celebrity fashion show? Now's your chance, and it's all for a good cause. Catwalk to a Cure, hosted by Vernon Kay and curated by Charlotte Edwards, will feature a star-studded lineup of models and performers. The event on 29 November is to raise money for Parkinson's UK, and will also include catwalk models who've been diagnosed with the condition. It takes place at Proud Embankment, and tickets range from £20 to £50.

Last Updated 15 November 2021