Things To Do This Week In London: 11-17 September 2023

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All week

A handful of boats being rowed past the Houses of Parliament on the Thames.
The Great River Race — part of Totally Thames — takes place on Saturday. Image: Great River Race

BOWIE AND BEYOND: Find out about David Bowie's connections to the Kingston music scene in exhibition Bowie and Beyond: Ziggy Stardust at Kingston Museum — he launched his Ziggy persona at Tolworth local pub Toby Jug in February 1972. Until 16 September

LONDON PODCAST FESTIVAL: We're into the final week of this year's London Podcast Festival at Kings Place, with several big name shows taking place in front of a live audience, including Rock 'n' Roll Politics with Steve Richards, and No Such Thing As A Fish. Some of the shows are streamed online too, if you can't make it in person. Until 17 September

AIN'T TOO PROUD: Following the remarkable journey of Motown group The Temptations from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, musical Ain't Too Proud ends its run at the Prince Edward Theatre this week. Until 17 September

THE OFFBEAT SARI: The Offbeat Sari at the Design Museum looks at the multiple definitions of the modern Sari — worn by some as an everyday garment, and others only for more formal occasions — and how its unstitched form has allowed designers to experiment with it over the years. This week is your last chance to see the exhibition before it closes. Until 17 September

Five male performers dancing in sync on stage in a performance of Ain't Too Proud.
Ain't Too Proud comes to the end of its run. Photo: Johan Persson

THE INVINCIBLES: Amanda Whittington's play about the 'Dagenham Invincibles' — a women's football team who went two season unbeaten — weaves in a modern day story, which was penned in real time as the recent World Cup unfolded. Go see The Invincibles at Hornchurch's Queen's Theatre. Until 23 September

TOTALLY THAMES: Much like the river itself, Totally Thames Festival is in full flow, celebrating our magnificent waterway through events including exhibitions, talks and tours, as well as the Great River Race (details under 'Saturday'). Read our guide for the lowdown on this year's festival. Until 1 October

RUGBY WORLD CUP: The action continues in France, where the Rugby World Cup is being held, with England playing Japan on Sunday, and Wales playing Portugal on Saturday, among many other matches. If you can't make it across the Channel, peruse our guide to where to watch the Rugby World Cup here in London. Until 28 October

PUB OF THE WEEK: The newly-revamped Wilmington in Clerkenwell throws (back) open its doors, with new chef Jamie Cousins behind a menu that's big on sharing. There's a brunch menu too, feat. pancakes, smashed avo, and benedicts.

DAY TRIP OF THE WEEK: Now that the summer tourist crowds have died down a bit, why not take yourself out for a literary day trip? Visit homes and other locations linked to authors including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf and others — all within easy travelling distance of London.

Monday 11 September

The silhouette of a person stands in front of a snowy Everest
Listen to a lecture on the indigenous porters of Mount Everest. Image: iStock/ASKA

EVEREST PORTERS: The Royal Geographical Society in Kensington holds a lecture about the indigenous porters who took part in expeditions up Mount Everest in the first part of the 21st century. Hundreds of porters helped explorers into the mountains, using local knowledge to make the expeditions possible and this talk uses archive materials to look at the lives and trajectories of these locals. 2.30pm-3.45pm

THE COLLECTOR'S EYE: Antiques dealer Robert Kime — who died last year — left behind a seriously impressive and wide-ranging collection, which will be auctioned off this autumn. Ahead of that, hear from designer Nina Campbell, antiques dealer Will Fisher, and Editor of House & Garden Hatta Byng about Kime's influence and legacy. It's an online event, hosted by the V&A. 7pm-8pm

SARA PASCOE: Comedian Sara Pascoe publishes her debut fiction novel, Weirdo, this month, and there's a special launch event at Waterstones Piccadilly. Hear Pascoe discuss the book, and collect an exclusive edition, included in your ticket. 7.30pm

FOLK MUSIC: Every second and forth Monday of the month, MAP Studio Cafe in Kentish Town is filled with the lilting sound of folk music — both trad and contemporary, as well as blues and Americana. Folk in the Cellar also costs just £5 to get into — bargain! 7.30pm

MAN ON THE RUN: A jaw-dropping new documentary about greed, glamour, and globe-spanning corruption has landed in London. See Man on The Run — which unravels the 1MDB scandal and looks at the enigmatic international playboy-turned-fugitive at the centre of it all — at West India Quay Cineworld on 11 September, or at East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema on 12 September. The latter screening includes a director Q&A. 8pm/8.30pm, until 12 September (sponsor)

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for something else to do, today or any other week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday — we've gathered together live music venues, comedy and cabaret clubs which keep going on what is usually the quietest day of the week, along with guided walks and tours scheduled on a Monday, and a few special offers too.

Tuesday 12 September

Comedian Rhys James against a green backdrop, looking at the camera.
Be at the live recording of Rhys James's show.

SPIRIT OF INVENTION: Catch a 'mini-talk' — just 10 minutes long — about the iconic design style which came about as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain, and which is still popular today. Sarah Castagnetti, Visual Collection Specialist at the National Archives, talks about how a shortage of materials after the war forced designers to think creatively. FREE, 2pm/3pm

RHYS JAMES: Be at a live recording of Spilt Milk, the latest show by comedian Rhys James, at Wilton's Music Hall. The stand-up show examines life in your thirties, and what it's like to live without the pressure of being identified as 'young' anymore. 6.30pm/9pm

CHILE COUP: 50 years after the coup in Chile — which saw democratically-elected leader Salvador Allende deposed in place of dictator Augusto Pinochet — the British Library looks at the situation today. Novelist, playwright, and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman, historian and journalist Camila Vergara, and Richard Smith, whose PhD concerned the student opposition to the Pinochet regime in Chile, discuss how the exile of thousands of Chileans shaped politics, art, literature and music. 7.15pm-8.30pm

WIND IN THE WILLOWS: How much do you know about Kenneth Grahame? He was an 'outwardly boring' conventional bank clerk who changed children's literature forever with his beloved book, The Wind in the Willows. Find out how and why it came to be written in an online lecture by Professor Ronald Hutton. 7.30pm-9pm

BUDAPEST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: The Concerto Budapest Symphony Orchestra opens a new season of classical music concerts at Fairfield Hall in Croydon. The programme includes Liszt’s Rhapsody No. 2 and Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto (the Brief Encounter one), finishing with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 with its epic finale. 7.30pm

Wednesday 13 September

A screenshot from TV show Succession
Hear from the writers of Succession. Photo: Macall Polay, courtesy of HBO

MYRA DUBOIS: Following a turn at Edinburgh Fringe, comedy drag act Myra Dubois brings a short run of UK tour Be Well to the Peacock Theatre, offering a sardonic side-eye at the wellness industry with her acid tongue and quick wit. 13-16 September

GREENWICH COMEDY FESTIVAL: Phil Wang, Chloe Petts, Sophie Duker, Jen Brister and Stephen K Amos are among the headliners at Greenwich Comedy Festival, taking place in a seated arena in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum. Arrive early for your show to make the most of the pop-up bars and street food stalls running alongside the festival. 13-17 September

DEATH OF ENGLAND: Jo Martin (Doctor Who) and Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake) appear on stage together in Death of England: Closing Time at National Theatre, a play about a family grieving the loss of their family shop and their dreams, while left to pick up the pieces of their relatives' mistakes. 13 September-11 November

WINE TASTING: Gaucho in Chancery Lane hosts Sour Grapes, an evening of wine tasting, where you'll slurp your way through vinos made with grapes that are currently fashionable — and sometimes a little quirky — all paired with small bites. 6pm-7.30pm

GALAXIES FAR, FAR AWAY: The free Gresham College lectures are back from today. And where better to start than with a talk from newly minted Gresham Professor Chris Lintott (him off The Sky at Night). Chris will be discussing what we know about other galaxies... he notes that there are several hundred billion in the observable universe, so we doubt this will be a comprehensive talk. Event is online, or attend in person. FREE, 6.30pm

STARGAZING LATE: As if in direct competition to the above (we're sure it's accidental), this month's Science Museum Late has a theme of stargazing, offering a chance to learn about the technology involved in the latest and most powerful telescopes which help us to see stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae. You can hear from one of the world’s leading experts in the digital restoration of Apollo imagery, learn about whether asteroids pose a threat to life on Earth, and get an insight into the politics of the Space Race. Find out more about stargazing in London. FREE, 6.30pm-10pm

SUCCESSION: Fan of TV show Succession? Southbank Centre hosts an evening with the show's writers, Tony Roche, Jon Brown, Lucy Prebble and Georgia Pritchett, in a conversation hosted by creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong. Find out about different directions the show could have taken with alternative dialogue and character plots. 8pm

Thursday 14 September

A tennis ball, racquet and purple towel
Absorb some towel history at Museum of Brands. Image: iStock/TraceyAPhotos

TOWEL NOSTALGIA: Today's the first day that the 175-year-old British heritage brand Christy, appears at the wonderful Museum of Brands in Notting Hill. They produced commemorative towels of the Royal family, Wimbledon and even Agent Provocateur. The display is included in museum entrance free. 14 September-end of October

NIGHT OF LEGENDS: English Heritage launches a brand new medieval performance event at Eltham Palace, taking place across three evenings this week. Night of Legends combines theatre with storytelling in an outdoor show about an ill-fated group trying to save themselves from an eternal curse, featuring doomed lovers, witches’ curses and a mounted knight. Suitable for age 5+. 14-16 September

TEMPLE BAR: Get a potted history of the City of London on a two-hour walking tour with London On The Ground, which starts, ends and is inspired by the enigmatic Temple Bar near St Paul's. 11am

MEDIEVAL PHARMACY: The Old Operating Theatre Museum holds an online talk about the main trends of medieval pharmacy, at a time when factors including the development of trade were increasing scientific knowledge. 6pm-7pm

POWER OF MUSIC: Why does music move us like no other art form? That's the topic at tonight's free Gresham lecture from Professor Milton Mermikides, at LSO St Lukes (or online). FREE, 6pm

REGENERATIVE FASHION: Timed to take place just before London Fashion Week, Conway Hall hosts a Regenerative Fashion Day, with campaigning movement Fashion Declares and a collective of sustainable fashion experts. The event includes a panel discussion on how to improve the fashion industry, both ethically and in term of environmental impact, as well as a Q&A and live performances. 6.30pm

THE BOBO: Next Door Records in Shepherd's Bush hosts The Bobo tonight — Maria Rozalska's dark pop/electro outfit. Why not buy a couple of record while you're here. 7pm-11pm

Friday 15 September

A performance of Abigail's Party - three cast members are sitting on a sofa looking bored, with two standing up behind the sofa
Abigail's Party is revived in North London. © Sheila Burnett

ABIGAIL'S PARTY: Catch a performance of Mike Leigh's 1977 play Abigail's Party, originally shown at Hampstead Theatre, but performed tonight and tomorrow at ArtsDepot in North Finchley. Watch as married couple Beverly and Laurence prepare to host their neighbours for the evening, offering a snapshot of 1970s Britain. 15-16 September

PECKHAM FESTIVAL: Galleries, former factories, warehouses, multi-storey car parks and railway arches are all venues for Peckham Festival, a free celebration of creative and cultural Peckham. FREE, 15-17 September

BLACK DEATH: We've seen first-hand how the government reacted to and dealt with the Covid pandemic. Today, the National Archives offers a look at how officials dealt with the Black Death of 1348, from plague pits to labour restrictions, and how those lost were commemorated. The online talk is given by Euan Roger, Principal Medieval Records Specialist at The National Archives. 2pm

MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY: Marking the anniversary of Spain retreating and recognising Mexico as a country in its own right, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on 16 September each year. Rich Mix starts the celebrations early with live music and performances from Mexican artists, including nine-piece cumbia band Kumbia Boruka. 7pm

PARK NIGHTS: The Serpentine Pavilion stays open late for Park Nights, a series of new performance commissions inside the temporary structure. Tonight, Brazilian-born visual artist, writer and psychologist Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro presents a new performance and installation which explores ritual, dance and celebration in both Afro-Brazilian and Western cultures. 8pm

ASIAN IMPROV: Hoopla Improv in the Miller pub near London Bridge hosts, SOLID GOLD! — an evening of East and South East Asian improv comedy. Among groups on tonight's docket are Comediasians, and The Nuggets — a group who've only met earlier today! 8pm-10pm

Saturday 16 September

A horse and rider dressed in traditional medieval jousting attire
Night of Legends takes place at Eltham Palace across three evenings this week.

WATERWORKS FESTIVAL: Gunnersbury park hosts the one-day Waterworks Festival, a massive showcase of London's alt music scene, with acts including Eliza Rose, Flowdan, Palms Trax, SHERELLE, Yung Singh and Eris Drew. One of the many performance spaces here is the Orbit stage, featuring 360-degree sound and an all female line up.

SWANKY COCKTAILS: Bar Paradiso in Barcelona was voted the world's best bar last year, and this weekend only, there's the chance to sample its liquid wares right here in London — with a pop-up at Fitzrovia's Punch Room. Five signature cocktails from Paradiso's latest menu, 'The Evolution', are up for grabs. Best to book a table. 16-17 September

FREE PALACE GARDEN: Savvy Londoners know that you can occasionally visit the gardens at Hampton Court for free — and this is one such weekend. It's a chance to visit the various gardens without the usual admission fee, though the palace itself, the maze, and the Magic Garden playground still have their usual fees. FREE, 16-17 September

ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHY: Shortly after last year's show closes, the new Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, showcasing the greatest space photography taken all over the world, with one picture declared the overall winner. From 16 September

REBEL FASHION: Björk's iconic swan dress, worn at the 2001 Oscars, is one of the centrepieces of REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion, a new exhibition at the Design Museum, which opens to coincides with London Fashion Week. Items worn by Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Rihanna and Kate Moss also feature in the show, which highlights London’s unique fashion culture on the world stage. From 16 September

CHANEL EXHIBITION: The middle of September is a double whammy for fashion fans, as the V&A opens its much-awaited exhibition, Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto. Get an insight into the life and work of the French couturière known as 'Coco', who founded the House of Chanel and continues to influence the way women dress today. From 16 September

GREAT RIVER RACE: See around 300 rowing boats taking to the Thames, covering a distance of 21.6 miles in a head-to-head race from Millwall to Richmond. Skiffs, regal-looking barges and Viking-style long boats all take part in the Great River Race, an event that's been going on since 1988 and is now part of Totally Thames Festival. It's free to watch, and there are plenty of viewpoints along the way — here are some tips. From 7.30am

DRAG ROYALTEA: Drag artist Kate Butch and special guest Ella V Ryde host the Royal Albert Hall's inaugural drag afternoon tea. Tuck into a boozy afternoon tea as you enjoy lip-syncing, drag silliness, songs, games and prizes — just be prepared for strong language and audience interaction too. 1pm

Sunday 17 September

Four speakers on stage in front of a screen at London Podcast Festival
Today's the final day of the London Podcast Festival. Image: Viktor E

GRAND SUNDAY LUNCH: The decadent Midland Grand Dining Rooms in St Pancras recently started a new Sunday menu under chef Patrick Powell, featuring an array of Sunday sharing platters such as slow cooked lamb, beef sirloin and barbecued monkfish tail. An opulent option if you're looking to spoil someone special — plus the adjoining Gothic Bar is a swoonworthy spot for an aperitif/digestif.

VINTAGE FAIR: Chelsea Old Town Hall is the place to head for the latest Frock Me Vintage Fair, where you can shop vintage and antique clothing, jewellery and textiles from more than 60 different dealers from across the UK and beyond. It's not unusual for designer label items to appear at the event, so keep an eye out as you browse. 11am-5.30pm

TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC: Classical ballet, physical theatre, visuals and storytelling combine for family-friendly show Teddy Bears' Picnic at ArtsDepot. It's aimed at ages 0-8, with audience members encouraged to bring their own teddy along to join in the fun. 11am/1pm/3pm

TEA WITH DR JOHNSON: Raise a birthday toast to the great lexicographer Samuel Johnson at this tea party. Held inside Johnson's former home north of Fleet Street, this is an "opportunity to have a cup of tea or several, with cakes, savouries, and fancies where Dr Johnson entertained his guests". 1pm-4pm

WE WERE YOUNG: Barbican Cinema hosts a screening of 1961 film We Were Young, set in 1940s Bulgaria as the Nazis rise to power, and telling the story of a group of young people willing to risk everything to oppose the Nazis. It's part of a series celebrating Bulgarian director Binka Zhelyazkova, and this is the first UK screening of this film since it was restored in 2021. 5.40pm

TWELFTH NIGHT: The Globe Theatre presents a very special performance on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio. The cast involved are preparing for the performance as they would have done in Shakespeare's time — no lengthy rehearsals, and no access to the full script. Each has just been given their own cues and lines to learn, to see how it all turns out on the night. 6.30pm

WAR TECHNOLOGY: The RAF Museum hosts a talk about the bombing technology employed in the second world war. Electronic engineer and historian Dave Gilbert offers an insight into the technology used aboard Bomber Command and Luftwaffe bombers, including how they were able to target with accuracy. No prior technical knowledge is required to follow the talk. 6.30pm-10pm

Good cause of the week

Volunteers needed! ‘The Record Store & Black Music, A UK History’ project starts soon, and will culminate in a celebration as part of Black History Month 2024. It will explore the cultural impact of UK independent record stores that specialised in Black music from 1950 onwards. The project will enable volunteers to research and conduct interviews with artists, DJs, store owners, customers and music fans that shaped this fascinating history. The project is managed by 2Funky Arts, with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. If you'd like to find out more, view the project website, which includes contact details for volunteering.