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24 wonderful things to do in London this weekend

Alexandra Sims

Your 48 hours of freedom have arrived. Use them wisely by knocking back Greek wine in King’s Cross, joining Europe’s biggest Diwali party in Trafalgar Square and stuffing your face with more confectionary goodness than you can shake a stick at if you visit The Chocolate Show at Olympia. 


Why Music? The Key to Memory’. Wellcome Collection. Sat-Sun. Free. Why do songs get stuck in your head? How can communal singing help families with dementia? Find out at this festival put on by BBC Radio 3, exploring the mysteries of music through talks, workshops and performances. Tickets are free, but it’s best to reserve in advance.

Diwali Festival 2017. Trafalgar Square. Sun. Free. Celebrate the Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of lights at Europe’s biggest party. Now in its sixteenth year, the annual Trafalgar Square bash features music, dancing and lots of great food.

Festifeel. House of Vans. Sat. £45. Make a tit of yourself at an indoor music festival for breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel, where Basement Jaxx and host Lauren Laverne will be in the DJ booths filling the Waterloo tunnels full of noise and glitter.

Heist Bank Beer Festival. Heist Bank. Sat-Sun. £15. Sip on keg brews from the UK and Scandinavia at this festival of pure beer geekery. Breweries Fourpure, Beavertown and Thornbridge will be headlining the event. There’ll also be workshops, talks and pizza. Mmmm. 

‘Wall of Dreams’. Southbank Centre. Ongoing. Free. Dreams from the refugee communities across London will be projected onto the Royal Festival Hall’s exterior, see them all as part of the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival.  

Poetry International. Southbank Centre. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. See in the London Literature Festival at this opening weekend dedicated to verse from around the world. First founded in 1967 by Ted Hughes, it turns 50 this year.

Arthur Jafa: ‘Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death’. 180 The Strand. Ongoing. Free. Don’t miss this heart-wrenching and totally perfect seven-minute film about black America. We reckon it might be one of the most important works of art of the past decade. Just go.

Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I. Sir John Soane’s Museum. Ongoing. Free. Discover the story of Giovanni Battista Belzoni, a circus strongman-turned-archaeologist who discovered the tomb of Pharaoh Seti 1 in 1817 at this exhibition in the beautiful surroundings of Sir John Soane’s Museum. 


Camden Vintage Sale. Cecil Sharp House. Sun. £3. Rummage for retro finds at this vintage fashion sale and then pay what they weigh. It’s £15 per kilo, but you can pop your chosen item on the scales and pay what you owe. 

London Greek Wine Festival. West Handyside Canopy, King’s Cross. Sat. £10. Back for the third year with a fine selection of booze, grub and passionate plonk producers, sample over 150 labels or join talks and masterclasses at this celebration of Greek vino.

Cabbages and Frocks Dog Day Afternoon. St Marylebone Parish Church. Sat. Free. Crazy for canines? Bring your pooch along to this doggy market day full of pup accessories, treats, training and portraits. If you don’t have your own, but still want a slice of the furry action drop by for the ‘Waggy Tail’, ‘Minatures and Toy Breeds’ and ‘New Kid on the Block’ (best puppy) competitions.

The Knitting and Stitching Show. Alexandra Palace. Sat and Sun. £14.50. Anyone with a crafty bone in their body should head to this fabric frenzy with 400 exhibitors selling threads, yarns, patterns and state-of-the-art sewing machines, plus workshops covering how to make pocket zips, zip insertion and pattern-adjusting.



‘Claiming a New Place on Earth’. Protein Studios. Sat-Sun. Free. Meet ten refugees who travelled to the UK as minors at this photo exhibition created by charity Breaking Barriers. Learn about the life each has left behind and their hopes for the future.

Midcentury Show East. Haggerston School. Sun. £19. See stunning twentieth-century interior design from over 60 furniture dealers at this east London sibling of Midcentury Modern. Even the building is a sight to see: it is held in Haggerston School, which was designed by brutalist architect Erno Goldfinger. 

Ed Fornieles: Seed. Carlos/Ishikawa. Ongoing. Free. In this complex little show there’s a VR porn programme where your lover constantly shifts gender and a cute digital avatar whose moods are fed by global events. It pushes the limits of our networked, digitised selves.

Makers’ Movements. Blackhorse Sideshow. Ongoing. Free. Spin a zoetrope, step into a hall of masks, pull levers and hand-crank kinetic sculptures at this immersive exhibition designed as an optical illusion.


Brixton October Fest. Brixton Rooftop. Sat. From £10. Bavaria is coming to Brixton for Oktoberfest with Bier Stein Pong, woolly lederhosen, heavy techno and the Wurst Karaoke Ever.

Glitterbox. Ministry of Sound. Sat. £26. Fresh from a summer of smashing Ibiza’s punters in the disco balls, this ace high energy party returns to Elephant & Castle with a headline set from Masters at Work’s Louie Vega providing a delicious cherry atop a disco/house cake.

Katharina Grosse: ‘This Drove my Mother Up the Wall’. South London Gallery. Ongoing. Free. Huge arcs of bright, blazing colours are spray-painted all over the walls, the ceiling and the floor in this explosive show.


The Chocolate Show. Olympia. Sat-Sun. £8-£10. Loco for cocoa? Try this sweet chocolate expo, with tastings, chocolate fountains and more confectionary goodness than you can shake a stick at. Try to remain calm. 

The Park Brewery Open Day. Sun. Free entry. Visit the Kingston beer-makers for a public open day filled with pies and ale. Sample the cask and keg ales in the mini microbrewery.

Rum Fest. ILEC Conference Centre. Sat-Sun. £49.50. Sip on 400 of the world’s best rums hailing from the likes of Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mauritius and the Philippines, listen to seminars from master distillers and party in the world’s largest tiki-head bar.

Dalí/Duchamp. Royal Academy of Arts. Ongoing. £15. Two twentieth-century giants go head to head at this show full of major work by the French and Spanish artists. Seeing these two masters in a room together is a total knock-out.

Frock Me! Vintage Fair. Chelsea Old Town Hall. Sun. £4. From pricey designer vintage to retro pieces for pounds, this event caters to vintage wearers, collectors and enthusiasts in search of one-off finds. Garments, shoes and accessories are available from as far back as the 1900s. 



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