Things To Do This Weekend In London: 18-19 November 2023

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All weekend

Visit the Hampton Court Palace Gardens for free this weekend. Photo: Tom Podmore via Unsplash

PALACE GARDENS: This weekend is your last chance to visit the Hampton Court Palace Gardens for free this year. The Great Fountain Garden, Kitchen Garden and Pond Garden, among other external areas, can be visited for free for two days only (you'd normally have to pay palace admission). Note that there's still a charge to visit the palace itself, the Maze, or the Magic Garden Playground. For an extra charge, you can go ice skating in the palace grounds too. FREE, 18-19 November

JAZZ FESTIVAL: This is the final couple of days of this year's EFG London Jazz Festival but there are still loads of concerts and performances to choose from. Catch a midnight Jazz in the Round performance at Cockpit in Marylebone, a (free!) celebration of Jazz from Ireland at Barbican, or Parisian soul/jazz diva China Moses performing some of her new work at Kings Place. Until 19 November

ING DISCERNING EYE: Head to Mall Galleries from Friday to see the free entry ING Discerning Eye Annual Exhibition. It's a show of small, domestic-scale artworks (max 50cm dimensions) by UK-based artists, chosen by an independent panel including artists, art collectors and critics. All of the artworks are for sale. FREE, 17-26 November

WINTER DRINKING: Several of London's winter drinking pop-ups open in time for this weekend, including Sipsmith's Christmas Martini Express in Covent Garden — which serves hot lemon drizzle martinis — as well as the unapologetically festive Miracle at Henrietta, and new Waterloo dive bar Humbug. With enough time and dosh, you can plan an epically festive bar crawl (drink responsibly though, obviously).

WINTER LIGHT: A series of outdoor artworks by 10 different artists, colourfully illuminated at night, form the free Winter Light trail at Southbank Centre. Jakob Kvist's Dichroic Sphere makes a return, along with a Cosmic Bloom projected onto the Royal Festival Hall by Leo Villareal. FREE, 13 November-7 January

Catch the Crown and Coronation light show this weekend. © His Majesty King Charles III 2023 -Royal Collection Trust - Historic Royal Palaces

WISHMAS: The team behind Secret Cinema launches a new immersive storytelling experience, Wishmas. It's a family-friendly event taking place beneath Waterloo station, exploring where our wishes go — with a grand finale with Father Christmas himself. 14 November-7 January

CHARLES DICKENS MUSEUM: Bloomsbury's Charles Dickens Museum unveils a new exhibition, Mutual Friends: The Adventures of Charles Dickens & Wilkie Collins. It's a chance to learn about the friendship and professional relationship between the two writers, and the body of work they produced collaboratively. 15 November-25 February

PAPER BOATS: Paper Boats: The Pakistani Bengali Story is a new, free exhibition at Rich Mix examining experiences of statelessness within Pakistani Bengali communities. Many have fragile legal status in Pakistan with issues around documentation and citizenship, something explored here through art, music, animation and film. FREE, 16 November-9 December

EVER AFTER GARDEN: Once again, Mayfair's Grosvenor Square glows with the light of more than 25,000 illuminated roses as the Ever After Garden returns. Anyone can visit, and though there's no admission fee, the installation raises money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, so do consider donating if you can. Alternatively, dedicate a rose to a loved one (minimum suggested donation £10). 16 November-19 December

LAVERGNE FAMILY: The National Gallery opens a new free display, Discover Liotard and the Lavergne Family. It features The Lavergne Family Breakfast, one of artist Jean-Etienne Liotard's largest and most ambitious works in pastel, alongside his oil version of the same work. FREE, 16 November-3 March

See this year's ING Discerning Eye exhibition at Mall Galleries. Photo: Ed Rees

CROWN AND CORONATION: The Tower of London is illuminated with regal projections for Crown and Coronation, a light show continuing the coronation celebrations. See images and video clips of monarchs, coronation ceremonies and the Crown Jewels projected onto the White Tower after dark every evening for the next week. 17-25 November

HYDE PARK WINTER WONDERLAND: London's giant festive funfair returns to Hyde Park, with all the usual attractions; ice rink, giant wheel, funfair rides, ice kingdom, circus, Christmas market and food and drink stalls. Note that like last year, you'll need to book your entry slot in advance, and prices vary depending on peak and off-peak timings. 17 November-1 January

LIGHT FANTASTIC: Choo choo! All aboard the Epping Ongar Railway for Lights Express, a special ride on a train that's illuminated with countless fairy lights. Once on board, watch the world whizz by the window, with other illuminations to be enjoyed from within the train. 17 November-7 January

STRANGER THINGS: A new Stranger Things show is coming to London, set several decades later than the Netflix show, but in the same town of Hawkins, Indiana. We won't give too much away, but it's got to be worth a look if you're eagerly awaiting series five. 17 November-August 2024

Saturday 18 November

It's the first weekend of this year's Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Image: Joshua Atkins

LGBTQ+ FAMILY NETWORK: Every couple of months, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich hosts the LGBTQ+ Family Network, allowing LGBTQ+ families to get to know each other while taking part in creative activities inspired by the local area. FREE, 10am-2pm

SEA SHANTY FESTIVAL: Cutty Sark celebrates its 154th birthday with a sea shanty festival taking place on board. Join in by singing traditional maritime songs, with performances from all-female group The Silver Darlings, and The London Sea Shanty Collective, among others. Included in usual admission price. 10am-4.30pm

THE HAUNTED LANDSCAPE: London Fortean Society hosts a day of talks about witchcraft, folklore, ghosts and fairies in the British Isles. Hear from Allyson Shaw about her personal journey in the footsteps of those accused of witchcraft in 17th-century Scotland, and Londonist contributor Sandra Lawrence about fungi in folklore, among other speakers. Takes place at Conway Hall. 10am-5pm

PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS: The Montcalm East hotel's resident photographer John Steven Martinez hosts a portrait photography masterclass, the latest in a series. Today, focus is on portrait photography using film, for anyone using a Polaroid or Instax camera. Learn the basics, then go on a photowalk around the Shoreditch area to put your new skills to use. 11am-1pm

CHRISTMAS WINE FEST: Thinking about stocking up on your festive tipple already? The Big Christmas Wine Fest has vino experts Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin and Olly Smith on hand to help you pick the perfect bottle to pair with your turkey. Over 600 wines from all around the world are available for tasting, and ready to buy when you find one that floats your boat. 1pm-8pm

ARTIST TALK: Londonist art critic Tabish Khan hosts an artist talk at current exhibition, In search of love and peace amongst the flowers, at gallery@oxo. The show is a group exhibition by 15 contemporary female artists, and today's discussion covers the topics of mythology, nature and the female gaze, offering a new perspective on the historical canon of art that for so long has been controlled by men. FREE, 3pm-4.30pm

Humbug is one of the winter drinking pop-ups which opens in time for this weekend.

CHOCOLATE TASTING: Chocoholics: head to Greensmiths Grocery and Cafe in Waterloo for its latest tasting session. Today's event is one of fans of the dark and bitter chocolate, with the 100% Arhuaco, from Sierra Nevada being tasted, alongside other 100% bars. 4pm

RUBIK'S CUBE: If you've ever been puzzled by a Rubik's Cube, get yourself to the Royal Institution for a talk about the maths and magic behind the multicoloured brainteasers. Mathematician and professional magician Andrew Jeffrey talks about the construction of not just the cube, but numbers themselves. 6pm-7.15pm

HAVEN'T STOPPED DANCING YET: Designed for "people who remember the tunes first time round and still want to party", Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet is a club night aimed at a slightly older demographic than other party events, with a soundtrack of 70s & 80s soul, funk and disco floor-fillers playing all night (well, until midnight — very sensible) at Balham Bowls Club. 7.30pm

HEART OF BRASS: Get yourself to Queen of Hoxton for an evening of well-known feel-good songs spanning house, funk and disco, played brass-style by the No Limit Street Band. That takes place in the venue's basement, while there's a hip-hop, R&B, garage, reggae and grime party on the ground floor. Age 18+. 8pm

MATT ROGERS: American comedian and actor Matt Rogers gets the festive season underway at Soho Theatre with Have You Heard Of Christmas?, a seasonal comedy-musical crossover in which he shows off songs from his holiday album of the same name. 9.45pm

SCARED TO DANCE: Alternative club night Scared To Dance is back at The Shacklewell Arms in Dalston, and this week's guest DJ is comedian Celya AB. Dance the night away to post-punk, indiepop, new wave and art rock music from the likes of Belle and Sebastian, Iggy Pop, Grace Jones and Joy Division. 11pm

Sunday 19 November

Sunday Papers Live is at a new venue this time round.

MIDCENTURY MODERN: Taking place at Dulwich College, the Midcentury Modern is an interiors show of 20th century furniture, soft furnishings, wallpaper, glassware and other items to kit out your home for a retro vibe, as well as pieces by modern designers. 85 dealers and designers are scheduled to attend. 10am-4pm

HAND SHADOW SHOW: Take the kids along to Dulwich Picture Gallery for Mr Shadow, a hand shadow show. Watch tales unfold featuring beautiful creatures made from shadows, with vintage hand shadow routines by the likes of Prasanna Rao, Edward Victor and Albert Almoznino used. 10.30am/1.30pm

CHRISTMAS BOOK FESTIVAL: Got a keen reader in the family? Get your Christmas shopping sorted at the Waterstones Finchley Road Christmas Book Festival, where several children's and YA authors are on hand to sign and write dedications in copies of their books. 11am-4pm

SEAFOOD FEAST: Cornwall meets Sri Lanka and South India at Hoppers in Soho, which serves a special menu for one day only. TV chef Jack Stein (son of Rick) teams up with Hoppers co-founder Karan Gokani to produce a Sri Lankan family-style sharing feast specialising in seafood — think mussel rasam, crab curry and a  wealth of other dishes. 12pm/3pm/5.30pm

Seafood is the star at Hoppers this Sunday.

JEWISH EAST END: Writer, activist and tour guide David Rosenberg leads a guided walk around the East End, focusing on radical Jewish women from the area's history. Start at Brick Lane Bookshop and find out about trade union militants, anarchists and suffragettes, housing activists, health pioneers and social workers, communists and anti-fascists who refused to accept their status as second-class citizens. 12pm

CRAFT FAIR: As featured in our guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London, Between the Bridges hosts the SoLo Craft Fair, giving 60 different locally-based makers a chance to sell their wares to the public. The venue also has bars and plenty of street food stalls. 12pm-5pm

SUNDAY PAPERS LIVE: 'Oversized living room' is the vibe at Sunday Papers Live, which consists of topical talks and discussions hosted by writers, artists, and comedians, using the Sunday papers as a starting point. Arts and crafts, pub quizzes and live music are also part of the fun. Takes place at the Welsh Chapel on Shaftesbury Avenue for the first time. 12.30pm-10pm

CONNECT 4: Fancy being part of a world record attempt? Walthamstow's Big Penny Social is trying to break the record for the largest Connect 4 tournament ever played, and naturally, they need lots and lots of people to take part. FREE, 2pm-5pm

THE MIGHTY GODDESS: Storytelling experts Crick Crack Club pitch up at the British Museum for The Mighty Goddess. Sally Pomme Clayton brings her book The Mighty Goddess to life through storytelling, featuring lust and greed, death and destruction, transformation and rebirth. Age 16+. 2.30pm-4.20pm

AFTERNOON CONCERT: The Natrio Trumpet Trio perform a programme of works by J.S. Bach. Nicole Piunno, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Harold Arlen in an afternoon concert, taking place at St Nicholas Church in Chiswick. 3pm