HALF TERM: Kids off school this week? Banish their boredom with our guide to things to do in London in half term. Whatever their age and whatever your budget, we've got entertainment covered from exhibitions to theatre shows to craft activities.
HALLOWEEN: The witching hour is coming... alright, so Halloween itself isn't until Sunday, but there are plenty of spooky events going on in London throughout the week — here's our guide to Halloween parties and events in London. Plus, consider this your reminder to get a costume sorted. You're welcome.
ILLUMINATURE: Light festival season is here, and the first one is already underway. Illuminature is an after-dark trail through the wetlands in Barnes, featuring rainfall lights, fireflies, and an immersive light tunnel. WWT London (Barnes), £17.50/£12.50, book ahead, 22 October-9 January
STAGES AND CELLS: The history of Bow Street and its theatrical ghosts is the subject of this limited run of Stages and Cells tours, curated by Royal Opera House and Bow Street Police Museum. Royal Opera House, £20/£18/£16, book ahead, 25-31 October
SPOOKY PHYSIC GARDEN: Witness Chelsea Physic Garden as you never have before, with an adults-only Halloween horror experience among the botanicals, laid on by Wild Immersive Theatre. You'll need a chamomile tea to calm down after this. £25, book ahead, until 31 October (no shows on 30 Oct)
ILLUSIONARIUM: Speaking of illuminations, do you know about Romford's, which is happening right now? Illusionarium is a trail of lights and illusions around the town centre, with 12 artworks and installations to see. Romford, free, just turn up at dusk, until 7 November 2021
LONDON RIVERS WEEK: 50 events take place for London Rivers Week, celebrating our waterways and helping restoration projects which keep them healthy. Guided walks, online webinars, vegetation management sessions and seed planting workshops are on the programme — see what's happening near you. 23-31 October
Monday 25 October
COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHY: Hear from photographer Susan Meiselas, who chats to Dr Marta Weiss, V&A Senior Curator of Photography, about her pioneering use of monochrome and colour photographs while documenting conflict in Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Online event, free, book ahead, 5pm-6.30pm
BLACK REPRESENTATION: Head to Wembley for a panel discussion about the lack of Black representation in the music industry. Though there are many Black artists and performers, management roles within the industry are still dominated by white males. Music professionals including including Komali Scott-Jones, A&R Manager at Parlophone Records and a founding member of the Black Music Coalition are on the panel. BoxPark Wembley, free, book ahead, 7pm-9pm
Tuesday 26 October
GENERATIONTUSK COMEDY: Ivo Graham hosts a comedy night with pals including Rhys James, Darren Harriott, Helen Bauer, Joe Wilkinson, Felicity Ward and Ahir Shah — in aid of GenerationTusk, a charity raising money for African conservation. The Comedy Store, Leicester Square, book ahead, £27.14, 6pm-10pm
SIR ROGER PENROSE: Mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2020 for his work on black holes. Learn about the man behind the science, as he chats to fellow scientists Thomas Fink and Yang-Hui He about where his ideas come from. Royal Institution (Mayfair) or online, £16, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm
WITCH HUNTING: The Viktor Wynd Museum holds an online event in which Professor Malcolm Gaskill talks about the obsession with witch hunting, both here and abroad, in the years 1645-52. Around 300 suspects were arrested, and 100 executed, in England during this period, and the crusade spread across the Atlantic. Online event, £10/£5, book ahead, 7.30pm-10.30pm
Wednesday 27 October
LONDON GOTHIC: Join London Metropolitan Archives for a talk about the dark side of London's history, just in time for Halloween. Find out why we're so interested in the grotesque and the supernatural. Online event, £5, book ahead, 2pm-3pm
GOTHIC TWILIGHT TOURS: Head to Twickenham for special Gothic twilight tours of Strawberry Hill House. Guides tell macabre tales as you wander through Horace Walpole's castle after dark — steel your nerves with a glass of fizz beforehand. Strawberry Hill House (Twickenham), £25, book ahead, 6.30pm/7pm (repeated tomorrow)
HAM HOUSE: As part of London Luminaries' autumn event series, hear from Dr Hannah Mawdsley, Property Curator at Ham House, about the Jacobean manor. Find out how it was restored and extended after a period of seclusion, as well as its links with the likes of Joshua Reynolds and John Constable. Online event, £5, book ahead, 7pm
Thursday 28 October
BOATY MCBOAT FACE: Polar research vessel Boaty McBoatFace (well, actually the RRS Sir David Attenborough) moors up in Greenwich for three days as part of Ice Worlds Festival. Get up close to the boat which almost made Britain a laughing stock, and learn about what it's used for and how it's adapted for life in the Arctic. Royal Museums Greenwich, free, just turn up, 28-30 October
CRAVEN STREET BONES: The former home of American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin stays open late, for an evening focused on the 1,200 bones which were found in the basement. Hear museum staff talk about what the bones were doing there. Benjamin Franklin House (Charing Cross), £10, book ahead, 5pm/6pm/7pm
V FOR VENDETTA: Stay late at The Cartoon Museum for an evening focused on graphic novel V For Vendetta. Dressing up in encouraged (you'll receive a mask on arrival to complete your ensemble), and entertainment includes talks, workshops and a live DJ set. The Cartoon Museum (Fitzrovia), £10, book ahead, 6.30pm-10pm
COLLYWOBBLERS COMEDY: Sion James MCs a night of comedy in Peckham, with Rosie Jones, Christian Reilly, Matt Hutchinson and others laying on the laughs. The roof terrace is open for pre and post show drinks. CLF Art Laughter Lounge Peckham, £10, book ahead (£15 on the door), 8.30pm-11pm (doors 7pm)
THE DATE: Two strangers, having a blind first date, up on stage, in front of an audience (that's you, BTW). Could be cool, could be cringey — only one way to find out. The Book Club (Shoreditch), £7.70, book ahead, 7pm
BLACK HOLE: What would happen if you fell into a black hole? We've never thought about it, but now we can't STOP thinking about it. Anyway, James Beacham, particle physicist at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, is here to give us the answer, along with plenty of other wisdom on black holes. Royal Institution (Mayfair), £16, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm
Friday 29 October
LINE OF LIGHT: For two nights only, the route of the newly-opened Northern line extension is illuminated above ground. A series of high-density light beams will mark the two-mile stretch for Line of Light, along with moving projections and an 'audio tapestry'. Nine Elms, free, just turn up, 6.30pm-10pm, 29-30 October
CANDLELIGHT CLUB: 1920s-themed party The Candlelight Club throws a Halloween party, taking place over two nights. Don your best spooky Jazz Age clobber and dance the night away to vintage tunes, with entertainment from Champagne Charlie. Secret London location, £40-£75, book ahead, 7pm, 29-30 October
PUMPKIN MARKET: Halloween has landed in Covent Garden, where a pumpkin market takes over the square for the weekend. Get your hands on your Halloween gourd, take a snap or two of the seasonal displays (something Covent Garden always does well), and stock up on Halloween goodies in the local shops. Covent Garden, free, just turn up, 29-31 October
POWER TO CHANGE: Ahead of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Tate Modern hosts a weekend festival, Power to Change, encouraging people to think about climate change in new ways. Look out for a light projection on the gallery's chimney each evening, go to a special climate-themed Tate Late, or take part in short talks and film screenings throughout the weekend. Tate Modern, free, book ahead, 29-31 October
Saturday 30 October
HALLOWEEN IN A BREWERY: Signature Brew hosts a day of Halloween hijinks in its Walthamstow Beer Mile taproom, including an all-day marathon of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, plus horror-punk band Salem DJing till late. Signature Brew, free, 12pm-late
TIM PEAKE: For an out of this world evening, head to Southbank Centre to hear from astronaut Tim Peake. He talks about life in space, the reality of being an astronaut, and why humans have chosen to visit space. Southbank Centre, £20-£45, book ahead, 7.30pm
PUB QUIZ: One of our top comedy picks for October, The Thinking Drinkers: Pub Quiz is a drinks-themed pub quiz by drinks writer duo, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham. Enjoy your five (!) free drinks as you pick up plenty of boozy trivia. artsdepot (North Finchley), £12-£18, book ahead, 7.30pm
CLOCKS GO BACK: Consider this your reminder that Daylight Saving Time ends at 2am on Sunday morning, meaning the clocks go back an hour.
Sunday 31 October
BLACK-OWNED MAKERS MARKET: Poplar Union finishes Black History Month with a Black-Owned Makers Market, giving you a chance to support small businesses run by Black artists and craftspeople. Clothing, greeting cards, cosmetics and chilli sauce are among the products on offer. Poplar Union, free entry, 11am-3pm
SUNDAY CONCERT: It's the Eusebius Quartet's turn to take to the stage for the Sunday Concert at Conway Hall, a regular event that's been happening since the 1880s. The all-female quartet perform works by Haydn, Bartók and Schumann. Conway Hall (Holborn), £10-£14, book ahead, 6.30pm-8pm
Urban oddity of the week
As it's Halloween week, let's meet London's spookiest postbox. The Penfold-style pillar can be found in Walthamstow Village, on the corner of Church Lane and Orford Road. It is no longer used for collections, and instead seems to be the dwelling of some diminutive dead-eyed monster. The eerie scene is heightened by the surroundings. In the background looms Ancient House, which remains a private residence having stood here for almost 600 years. The stories it could tell! Not pictured, on account of being the other side of our lens, is the graveyard of St Mary's church. If ghosts really did exist, this would be spook central.
Good cause of the week
This week, we'd like to give a shout out to FoodCycle Wandsworth Road, the 15th FoodCycle project in London to give out free meals to those who need them. FoodCycle is also a virtuous cycle: it provides meals to families and individuals in need, but it also reduces food waste by only using surplus food that might otherwise have been binned. On top of that, each FoodCycle event offers a welcoming space to make new friends and have a bit of a chat. FoodCycle Wandsworth Road opens at Christ Church Community Hall on Union Grove in Lambeth on Friday 19 November with food served from 12.30pm. It then returns at the same time every Friday.
You can help in two ways. First, spread the word to anyone you know who could benefit from the initiative. Anyone can come to a FoodCycle meal — no need to fill out a form; you can just turn up. Second, the FoodCycle needs volunteers. Perhaps you help cook the food, act as a host, or pick up the food from local suppliers. Find out more on the FoodCycle website, along with details on similar initiatives in other parts of London and beyond.