Dig out your sturdiest leaf-crunching shoes and embrace all things autumnal with November's offering of cool, crisp things to do. There's Thanksgiving meals and London Jazz festival to keep you happy indoors and the ultra-trad Lord Mayor's Show and big ol' Bonfire Night to keep you entertained outdoors. Start your month off with a bang with our pick of the very best things to do in London this November.
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Our November 2017 highlights
An exhibition championing Sam McKnight's impressive 40-year career in hair-styling. As one of the first stylists to have solely carved a career in the fashion world, McKnight's portfolio spans beautiful blow drys, braids and waves for editorial shoots, ad campaigns and catwalk shows.
The prestigious nature photography exhibition returns this October. Now in its fifty-second year, the renowned and celebrated annual wildlife photography competition and exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet, captured by professional and amateur photographers.
Elton John has one of the best private collections of twentieth-century photography in the world, which may come as a surprise if you thought he just spent his money on CDs and flowers. He's lending around 150 key images for this major Tate Modern show.
The Southbank Centre Winter Festival returns for 2016 and along with its array of festive shows and performances they will also be celebrating the coldest season with a fistful of fun pop-ups and activities. NoFit State will be bringing contemporary circus to the stage with 'Bianco' performed above, behind and around the audience, plus Christmas will get a rock 'n' roll makeover thanks to the 'Million Dollar Quartet' musical.
Do you love nothing more than rolling with your homies? Then head down to Bump's wooden-floored roller disco that's popping up at the Southbank Centre for another year. Skates are included in the ticket price (though pros are welcome to bring their own), and there'll be a line-up of special club nights taking place in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays for which tickets can be booked in advance.
This is the month when London gets transformed into the sparkliest, blingiest, most festive place on earth with the switching on of Christmas lights all over town. There's nothing like the sparkle of London Christmas lights to give the city an instant festive makeover. Plan an outing to gaze upon Christmas lights in London, ahead of a festive spot of ice skating or Christmas shopping, with our guide to all the main lights in London this Christmas here.
Now that the entire world has woken up to the magnitude of Mark Rylance’s acting talents, the notoriously eccentric ex-Globe boss seems determined to balance out mainstream screen fare like ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ with more, er, ‘eccentric’ stage work. Last year’s West End hit ‘Farinelli and the King’ had a curio-ish bent to it, and that goes does double for ‘Nice Fish’.
November in London means the beginning of all things festive and, naturally, the opening of major ice rinks around town. So whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or scramble around like Bambi, the capital's outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you can visit this season. Here's a round-up of all the best London ice skating rinks to twirl around on this year.
JK Rowling’s new movie set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter is finally released this month, much to the delight of every single Potter fan in the country. But be warned: it's not a direct Hazza P sequel, spin-off or prequel. It’s a new story, set in the wizarding world but several decades earlier in 1920s New York. ‘The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the “Harry Potter” books,’ says Rowling. But that’s it.
‘This House’ is a backroom, whips’-eye view of the relentless grind that was UK politics between 1974 and 1979. It was the period in which the hung parliament of February ’74 yielded to the miniscule Labour majority of October ’74, which in turn begat four years of political near-deadlock.
Free events in November
Art exhibitions this November
Indisputable fact: there's no more important painter alive today than Jasper Johns. The 86-year-old artist's influence stretches so far and wide that it's practically immeasurable. He came of age in 1950s New York, in the fertile years between splashy Abstract Expressionism and ice-cool Pop, which was when he created his iconic piece 'Flag', which nodded to both movements. Iconoclastic and experimental, Johns moved the goalposts of painting.
Twenty-three years down the line, it's easy to forget how Rachel Whiteread shocked audiences with her Turner Prize entry 'House': the concrete cast of the interior of a Victorian house in Mile End. But it won her the prize – she was the first woman to do so – and since then, Whiteread has risen to become one of the most influential figures of the art establishment. She'll always be chiefly for making casts of negative spaces, but her work stretches beyond that – this long-overdue retrospective should flesh out a highly accomplished career.
Fifteenth-century Flemish artist Jan van Eyck was as much a technical pioneer as he was an artistic genius, mastering illusionistic space in his exquisitely constructed paintings. Five centuries later, his masterwork 'The Arnolfini Portrait' inspired a new wave of artists: the Pre-Raphaelites, a circle of Victorian bad boys who championed his draughtsmanship and symbolism.
He's never captured public imagination quite like his contemporaries Gauguin and van Gogh – but Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) was the real daddy of post-impressionism. His innovative way of modelling form with colour and geometric shapes lay out the path for cubism, fauvism and all of the modern art that was to follow. He's best known for his landscapes of the Provençal countryside, but this show brings together his portraits, including paintings of his wife, uncle and himself.
Amadeo Modigliani's star burned bright and fast. The Italian artist died from tubercular meningitis at the tragic age of 35, but in the years leading up to that he was a well-known – if not financially successful – player in the vibrant Parisian art scene. The elongated figures of his paintings and sculptures are unmistakeable: sensual, elegant, and now gathered together for his largest UK retrospective to date.
The first question that everyone should be asking about the first major UK retrospective of Jean-Michel Basquiat is this: why the hell has it taken so long? The artist's career was short (he died, tragically, from a heroin overdose at 27), but shone all the brighter for it. Basquiat grew up in Brooklyn, and became a graffiti artist in his teenage years. Then, coming of age in the seismic New York art scene of the '80s, he was taken under the wing of Andy Warhol and shot to fame and fortune: a glittering superstar. His paintings are bright, wild, unique and hoovered up everything from anatomical textbooks to African art as influences. To see them assembled en masse is set to be a thrilling experience.
Gigs in London this November
Minus legendary geetar misanthrope Ritchie Blackmore, the '70s rock dinosaurs still boast a line-up including Messrs Gillan, Paice and Glover. They will no doubt treat the Jeremy Clarkson massive to such classics as 'Highway Star', 'Fireball' and their riffmongous perennial 'Smoke On The Water' – pretty much the national anthem of UK trad rock.
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Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
This Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant at COMO The Halkin hotel comes from the Arzak family - famed for their eponymous, three Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. Ametsa offers a similarly intricate showcase of New Basque cuisine, with contemporary interpretations of classic dishes from the north-east of Spain. The menu might include dishes such as seasonal vegetables with sesame and summer truffle, grouse with dry apricot mousse and golden berries, suckling pig on a bed of carob crumbs, and leche 'tostada' con helado de piña asada - a Spanish dessert of clove custard, toasted milk and pineapple ice cream. A tasting menu - with or without wine pairing - is available alongside the a la carte at dinner, with a set lunch menu (currently £29 for two courses) offering a more accessible option. Sherries and Spanish wine dominate the wine list.