Things To Do This Week In London: 18-24 September 2023

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Things to do this week is sponsored by London Symphony Orchestra.

All week

DJ Harriet Rose in front of decks on top of The O2, with the Canary Wharf skyline in the background.
Start your weekend with a silent disco above The O2 on Friday.

FUTURE OF FOOD: All this week, new culinary festival Future of Food takes place across Regent Street and St James's, with 23 restaurants taking part and 17 events to enjoy. See inside Regent Street's urban farm, taste Michelin star menus, take part in cocktail masterclasses, and plenty more to keep your tastebuds busy. 18-24 September

ADRIAN BLISS: Comedian, YouTuber and social media star Adrian Bliss takes over Soho Theatre for a run of his show, Inside Everyone — a whistlestop tour through history via an atom which travels to Earth, finding himself inside some of the most important people who have ever lived. 18-30 September

THE TWIGGY MUSICAL: Fashion model Twiggy is the subject of the latest new musical in the West End. Close Up: The Twiggy Musical charts her rise to fame from childhood in Neasden to young woman facing snobbery and sexism, to national treasure. It's written and directed by Ben Elton. 18 September-18 November

ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHY: Shortly after last year's show closed, 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

LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: The 21st edition of London Design Festival continues its aim of showcasing London as the design capital of the world. At time of writing, the programme has yet to be announced, but we're expecting the usual blend of displays and exhibitions, talks and more. Until 24 September

A negroni
Celebrate Negroni Week at Fern in Croydon

PUNCHDRUNK: Immersive theatre legends Punchdrunk bring to a close their current production, The Burnt City — their first London show for several years. The whole point of Punchdrunk shows is that there's no fixed narrative: you're invited to roam wherever you like, to follow characters and explore spaces at your whim. Until 24 September

SHAKESPEARE'S FIRST FOLIO: This year marks 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio, something the National Maritime Museum celebrated with exhibition The Tempest and the Thames, displaying one of only 50 known copies of the First Folio and exploring the connections between Shakespeare and the sea. This week is your last chance to see it. Until 24 September

TOTALLY THAMES: River festival Totally Thames continues with walks, talks, tours, exhibitions, boat rides and more, all celebrating London's main waterway. Highlights this week include Pump by Knot, a performance taking place inside Crossness Pumping Station, but browse the programme to see what else is on. Until 1 October

DRINK OF THE WEEK: It's Negroni Week, dontcha know — the perfect excuse for sipping industrial strength cocktails in the name of culture. Tbh you'll find great negronis across the capital, but Fern in East Croydon has partnered with Ramsbury Distillery to craft a range of limited edition drinks, including a a British negroni sbagliato and negroni sour. 18-24 September

EAT OF THE WEEK: Wagyu short rib Irish stew made with stout, and báite with vanilla ice cream and espresso are on the menu at Chelsea's flashy new restaurant, Bóha London, dishing up elevated British and Irish fusion. There's a speakeasy attached, too — ideal for pre-drinks.

DAY TRIP OF THE WEEK: If you're up for getting out of London for more than just a day, book yourself a night in one of these themed hotels and quirky places to stay close to London. You could be hitting the hay in a lighthouse, a Dolly Parton-themed bedroom, a knight's tent, or a lodge overlooking the (Kentish) savannah.

Monday 18 September

Bees in a honeycomb
Find out how you can protect and support bees, butterflies, flies and moths. Image: iStock/florintt

KNOT TYING DAY: The Cutty Sark marks World Knot Tying Day — timed to commemorate the death of the author of the knot-tyers' 'bible', Clifford Ashley. There's a chance to master a few different knots yourself, and to learn how the vessel's ropes were made, along with rigging demonstrations and other activities. 10am-4pm

TEA DANCE: Start your afternoon with a beginners' dance class led by former world champion Raymond Root, followed by a traditional tea dance at Shoreditch Town Hall. It's the first event in the series of Autumn Tea Dances, with dancers of all ages welcome, no experience necessary. 12pm-4pm

BEE SUPER HIGHWAY: Alice Laughton, Ecology Manager of Kensington and Chelsea Council, is at North Kensington Library to talk about what is being done to protect and support bees, butterflies, flies, moths and other pollinators in the local area. It's also a chance to learn how you can do your bit to help them. FREE, 6pm-7pm

COCO CHANEL: Tying in with the new Chanel exhibition, the V&A hosts Coco Chanel biographer Justine Picardi in conversation with V&A curator Oriole Cullen. It's a chance to learn about Chanel's life and legacy, and the mysteries and myths that surround her. It's an online talk, via Zoom. 7pm-8pm

ASIAN HERITAGE: The British Library hosts an evening of discussion and music to mark East and South East Asian Heritage Month, celebrating how people from ESEA backgrounds have shaped modern Britain. The event includes stalls showcasing sustainable ESEA goods, and a panel discussion about climate justice and environmental issues within the context of ESEA communities. Guests include climate campaigner Tori Tsui, writer and gardener Sui Serle, food writer Kemnji Morimoto, and musician Helen Ganya. 7pm-8.30pm

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 19 September

Photo of a hooded figure looking out over a hazy London skyline
Find out why London has been the capital of Utopian thought

BOURGEOIS & MAURICE: Cabaret superstars Bourgeois & Maurice bring their hit show Pleasure Seekers back to Wilton's Music Hall, for five evenings of impressive songs and outfits, and an 8ft pinata. 19-23 September

NURSERY RHYMES LONDON: Today's Bring Your Baby guided walk — aimed at parents and carers with babies in tow — focuses on the roots of nursery rhymes set in London, including Three Blind Mice, Little Jack Horner and Little Miss Muffet, as well as delving into Tudor history. There are plenty of breaks along the way, allowing you time to feed and change your baby as necessary. 11am-2pm

HACKERS: Are all cybercriminals young, white men in hoodies? Nope. Professor Victoria Baines blows apart the stereotypes, in this free Gresham lecture in Holborn. FREE, 6pm

UTOPIAN LONDON: Niall Kishtainy, author of The Infinite City: Utopian Dreams on the Streets of London, is at Conway Hall to offer an insight into how London has been the capital of utopian thought for several centuries. Hear tales of people who drew strength and fought for their ideologies, including Ada Salter who ignited the Bermondsey Revolution. 6.30pm

ULTRA-PROCESSED FOOD: Infectious diseases doctor and science broadcaster Chris van Tulleken offers a sobering insight into the effects that the increase in ultra-processed foods have had on our health and weight. The highly addictive and largely unhealthy UPF now makes up around 60% of the average UK diet. Takes place at the Royal Institution. 7pm-8.30pm

BOB MARLEY: The Adelphi Theatre hosts tribute show Legend - The Music of Bob Marley, featuring a live cast performing the Jamaican reggae star's best-known songs, including One Love, Jammin', and No Woman, No Cry. 7.30pm

Sponsor message

Enjoy sixty minutes of Stravinsky with the London Symphony Orchestra

A conductor in a white shirt in front of an orchestra

Half Six Fix is back! London Symphony's Orchestra's programme of pint-sized concerts kicks off on 20 September, with Stravinsky's bittersweet Pulcinella — and we've blagged you 2-for-1 tickets.

As with all Half Six Fix concerts, your evening begins at 6.30pm in the auditorium of the Barbican. Grab a drink from the bar on your way in, then get comfy while conductor Barbara Hannigan gives you the low-down on this tongue-in-cheek drama of thwarted love. She'll clue you in on what to listen out for and share a bit of background trivia, before the music begins.

This time, the LSO is joined by a trio of talented singers. As well as watching them on stage, you'll see close-ups on the big screen to give you a clearer-than-usual picture of the mechanics of an orchestra. All of this, coupled with the fact that the whole event lasts just an hour — with plenty of time for drinks or dinner afterwards — makes it an excellent entry point for those new to orchestral music. And with 2-for-1 tickets with the code LDN23HSF (subject to availability), it's all the more accessible.

Wednesday 20 September

A woman fitting an item of clothing to a mannequin
The Missing Thread opens at Somerset House on Thursday. Photo by Anne Tetzlaff

SOCIAL HOUSING WALK: Take a guided walk around the area of Clerkenwell, led by City Highlights guide Mike Moran and focusing on the area's social housing. Clerkenwell was known as one of London's first suburbs, and the walk looks at how social housing helped its development, from medieval alms houses to 20th century ‘council’ housing. 11am-2pm

QUEER FOOT PRINTS: London Metropolitan Archives celebrates the launch of Queer Foot Prints, a new book by Dan Glass, with an evening of readings and conversation. Glass himself reads from the book, which chronicles London's LGBTQ+ history, and talks about how he used the LMA's collections during his research. FREE, 6pm

NERD NITE: Self-driving cars, the best albums of all time (as decreed by NME in 1985) and patriarchy-fighting women in the slums of Mumbai are the subjects on the docket at Nerd Nite at Backyard Comedy Club. 6pm-11pm

SEX GODDESSES: This Gresham College lecture discusses divine female figures in the ancient world, including Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite and Venus. What they have in common, is that to varying degrees they all combined the personae of deities of sexual love and of war. FREE, 6pm

HOUSING: How sustainable and cost-effective is high-rise housing in London? That's the topic of this London Society event, hosted by housing experts June Barnes and Andrew Beharrell.

AMERICAN SONGS: OSO Arts Centre in Barnes hosts a musical homage to the great U.S. singer-songwriters of the late 60s and early 70s, including James Taylor, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Don Mclean, Mamas and Papas and Carly Simon. Hear their best-known songs performed live by a five-piece band. 7.30pm

GREEK MYTHS: Crick Crack Club expert storyteller Ben Haggarty is at Kings Place for Atlanta, the latest in the Greek Myths Unleashed series. It puts something of a twist on classical mythology, telling the tale of a remarkable virgin hunter and devotee of Artemis who doesn’t want to have anything to do with men. Age 16+. 8pm

Thursday 21 September

Allysha Joy
Allysha Joy performs at the Royal Albert Hall.

DAWN FRENCH: Comedian and actor Dawn French takes over the London Palladium for four nights this week (plus two next month), performing her show Dawn French is a Huge Twat. She shares stories of the most embarrassing mishaps and misunderstandings that have happened to her throughout her life and career. 21-24 September

THE MISSING THREAD: September's been an excellent month for new fashion exhibitions, a trend which continues with The Missing Thread at Somerset House, covering the untold stories of Black British fashion. It charts the shifting landscape of Black British culture from the 1970s to the present day, and the unique contribution it has made to design history, with music, photography, art and design covered in addition to catwalk fashion. 21 September-7 January

GLASSHOUSES TOUR: As part of Chelsea Physic Garden's 350th anniversary celebrations, it offers a tour of its glasshouses — recently renovated Victorian structures — led by a senior member of the horticulture team. Find out about the exotic plants growing, how the glasshouses have been used for over a century, and those renovations. 11.30am-1pm

GOOD AI: Could artificial intelligence be used to tackle online harms to children? What are the specific “solutions” AI could offer – for example, age verification, preventing the sending of intimate images, and stopping the promotion of harmful content - and what would applying these look like in practice? Prof Andy Phippen explores these themes in his Gresham lecture. FREE, 6pm

NASH SESSIONS: From one set of glasshouses (above) to another, stay late at Kew Gardens for The Nash Sessions, an evening of live music in the botanical gardens' glasshouse. Young string quartet The Morassi Quartet combine traditional classical works by Mozart, Debussy, and John Williams, with more modern songs by the likes of Adele, ABBA, and The Beatles for this performance. 6.30pm-9pm

NAKED NEANDERTHAL: Get the lowdown on our predecessors at the Royal Institution, where paleoanthropologist Ludovic Slimak delves into the mysteries of the Neanderthals. His work has been pivotal in challenging our perceptions of Neanderthals, presenting them as a distinct species rather than comparing them directly with modern humans. 7pm-8.30pm

LATE NIGHT JAZZ: Australian singer, pianist, poet and songwriter Allysha Joy performs at tonight's Late Night Jazz at the Royal Albert Hall, the first event in the new season. Joy shares music from her 2022 album Torn: Tonic. 9.30pm

Friday 22 September

Five bottles of French red wine and a glass lined up on a table
French wine is paired with Indian food at Yaatra.

FLOWER FESTIVAL: British-grown flowers, foam-free sustainable floristry, and the creativity of the UK-based floral designers are all celebrated at the Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival. Take tours of the festival led by curators, take part in tablescape, hand-tied bouquet or floral crown masterclasses, or simply enjoy the beauty of the house adorned with flowers. 22-24 September

SILENT DISCO: Start your weekend with a silent disco on top of The O2, with the London skyline as your backdrop. KISS FM DJ Harriet Rose hosts, playing old-school and chart tracks — you just need to climb the 52 metres from the Up At The O2 base camp to get there! 7pm

WINE PAIRING: Indian fine dining restaurant Yaatra hosts its latest wine dinner. Resident sommelier Nick Smith matches premium French wines with Chef Amit’s flavourful dishes selected from across India, including Kid lamb leg shami kebab and Scottish wild grilled venison with Rajasthani-spiced hunter jus. 7pm

DRAG COMEDY CABARET: Drag comedian Lady Bushra headlines Drag Comedy Cabaret, a theatre-style show, at the Queen of Hoxton. The character offers humorous insights into life from a British South Asian perspective. 7pm

JAZZ TRIO: The Morocco Bound bookshop in Bermondsey is filled with the sounds of the Thomas McBrien Trio's smooth jazz tonight. Treat yourself to a craft beer, and soak up the sounds in this wonderfully bookish setting. 7pm-10.30pm

LONDON HUGHES: Comedian London Hughes is at Bloomsbury Theatre for a night of stand-up comedy and conversation, celebrating the launch of her new book, Living My Best Life, Hun. It focuses on her journey to success, from secretly writing Frasier fan fiction alone in her bedroom to taking Hollywood by storm. 7.30pm

Saturday 23 September

Crowds watching the stage at music festival Turning Tides
Enjoy free live entertainment at Turning Tides.

TURNING TIDES FESTIVAL: Summer festival season isn't over yet. Greenwich Peninsula hosts two days of free live music and DJs, as well as performing artists and entertainers in the form of Turning Tides festival. African fusion band Afriquoi headline Saturday, with London-based, all-female group Los Bitchos leading things on Sunday. Advance booking required. FREE, 23-24 September

SMALLS FILM FESTIVAL: The Curzon Hoxton is taken over by The Smalls Film Festival, celebrating short films across various categories including animation, documentary, comedy and drama. Shorts from each category have been programmed together into a feature-length screening, with entries from all over the world. 23-24 September

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN: Claiming to be the world’s largest music and philosophy festival, HowTheLightGetsIn returns to Kenwood House. Ruby Wax, David Baddiel, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart are confirmed as speakers this year, with music performances by Badly Drawn Boy, Walt Disco and Saffiyah, among others. 23-24 September

20-MILE WALK: Up for an epic walk? Michael Brunström and Tim Wilson are leading a circuit of the London Circle Walk today, covering a 20-mile ring that runs clockwise from Tower Bridge, as far south as Stockwell, as far west as Kensington Gardens, and as far north as Camden Town. There is, you'll be glad to know, a stop for lunch. Free, 9.45am-6pm

MODEL RAILWAY SHOW: Choo choo! All aboard to Whitewebbs Museum in Enfield, where a model railway show takes place. View 15+ layouts created by the Enfield Whitewebbs Railway Modellers, and buy and trade pieces of kit you need for your own layouts, with children's activities to keep little ones entertained. 10am-4pm

BARNSBURY: It's a short walk from Upper Street, but Barnsbury remains an "off-radar" part of London for many. This beautiful residential area boasts a 1,000 year history, as you'll discover on this London on the Ground guided walk. 1.30pm

MARY BEARD: Classicist and historian Mary Beard talks Roman emperors in a special evening at Barbican. From Julius Caesar to Alexander Severus, learn what's fact and what's fiction about the legendary rulers, and get an insight into their everyday lives. 7.30pm

Sunday 24 September

Alan Titchmarsh driving sheep over London Bridge
A standard Sunday in the City of London. Photo: London Sheep Drive

SHEEP DRIVE: One of London's wackiest annual events is the London Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. Each year, a chosen celebrity has the honour of herding sheep over Southwark Bridge — previous celebs have included Kate Humble and Mary Berry, but keep an eye on the website for this year's announcement. There's no public access to the bridge, but everyone's welcome at the livery fair next to the Monument afterwards. FREE, 10am-4pm

BIG LONDON FLEA: 60 traders take over EartH Hackney for the Big London Flea, offering you the chance to browse and buy furniture, homewares, vintage attire, industrial electricals, lighting, and unexpected oddities spread across two floors. 11am-5pm

HARVEST FESTIVAL: Brixton Windmill hosts an afternoon of harvesty celebrations, featuring live music, games, and craft and baking workshops. There are also tours of the windmill, and the chance to buy flour that's ground here. 1pm-5pm

ANOTHER HARVEST FESTIVAL: The London Pearly Kings and Queens Society holds a harvest festival, starting in Guildhall Yard, with live entertainment before moving to a church service at St-Mary-le-Bow. FREE, 1.30pm

ADULT CRAFT SESSION: Colour expert and Londonist contributor Momtaz Begum-Hossain runs a mindful crafting events for adults in Royal Docks. Unleash your inner artist and enjoy the therapeutic powers of crafting. Projects could include anything from painting and collage to mindful sewing and embroidery. All materials are provided and no previous art/craft experience is necessary. Age 16+. 4pm-6pm

WORDS OF PEACE: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe celebrates International Peace Day with Words of Peace, a one-night summit of non-violence hosted by actor Mark Rylance. The candlelit event features song, poetry and prose performed by several actors, artists and musicians, with money raised going to UNESCO and UNHCR. 7pm

Good cause of the week

A happy mother and child, with a message that £1 provides a day's food for the girl

Love Food Give Food, the campaign which invites diners to add £1 to their bill to contribute to Action Against Hunger UK’s life-saving humanitarian work, has returned, running through September and October.

In 2023, 174 restaurants are taking part in the campaign, including Hawksmoor, Shoryu Ramen, Hakkasan and Darjeeling Express. Action Against Hunger is hoping to raise over £200,000, which will help fight hunger and malnutrition in 55 countries around the world. The money brings relief to communities affected by natural disasters, supports people in conflict zones, and helps communities to adapt to climate change. So book a table at one of these restaurants, and help reduce hunger all around the world.