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26 brilliant things to do in London this weekend

Written by
Alexandra Sims

Give yourself a pat on the back – you’ve made it through the working week and now the weekend’s yours for the taking. Spend your two days of freedom guzzling down Nordic platters cooked by top Scandi chefs at the Southbank Centre, wandering around the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands or flicking through sleeves at the Hackney Record Fair. 


Nelson Mandela: The Presidential Years. Southbank Centre. Sun. £20-£45. Watch a cast of actors bring Nelson Mandela’s ‘Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years’ to life. The evening also features a panel, chaired by newsreader Jon Snow, discussing the late politician’s legacy. 

Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016. Southbank Centre. Sun. £15-£35. The acclaimed photographer presents works from her new book ‘Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016’, featuring portraits of Leonard Cohen and Barack Obama.

The Great Nordic Feast. Southbank Centre. Sat-Sun. £19-£49. Tuck into tasty Nordic dishes prepared by a line-up of Scandi cooking greats. Chow down on a Nordic artisan breakfast – served the traditional way, as a smorgasbord – or an epic dinner of the chefs’ signature dishes. 

RA Lates: Manhattan Studio Party. Royal Academy of Arts. Sat. From £35. The Gallery is swinging open its doors after-hours for an avant-garde New York-style party. There’ll be performances, installations, DJs, talks and film screenings all coinciding with the autumn exhibition ‘Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth’.

Lostacos Day of the Dead Celebrations. Doodle Bar. Sun. £25. Dine on Day of the Dead-themed food and drink with Lostacos who are conjuring up glow-in-the-dark tacos for daring guests to devour this Halloween. Luminous treats will be accompanied by mezcal cocktails, a screening of ‘Juan of the Dead’ and live music.

Soul of a Nation Closing Party. Tate Modern. Sat. £7-£28. If you haven’t seen Tate Modern’s epic ‘Soul of a Nation’ show yet, hit up this closing extravaganza complete with soul food, Hip Hop Karaoke, Brooklyn Brewery craft beer on tap, soul inspired music and mind-expanding art. 

Classic Horror All-Nighter. Prince Charles Cinema. Sat. £20. Sit back for 683 minutes of arse-numbing gore at this epic movie marathon. See six retro horrors – ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘Alien’ and ‘The Exorcist’ among them – and don’t worry about falling asleep. After these, you’ll never sleep again.


Bloomsbury Festival. Various locations. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. This local fest is packed with performances, live music and events celebrating the rich heritage of the area. This year’s theme is ‘independence’ and highlights include a pavilion designed by Alexander Brodsky in Bloomsbury Square commemorating the Russian Revolution. Most of the events are free, so there’s no excuse not be there.

River Lea Apple Day. Stonebridge Lock. Sat. Free. London’s floating village hall, the Village Butty, is embracing Autumn’s glut of fruit with an apple fest where you can bob, peel, press and taste dozens of local varieties.

Veuve Clicquot Widow Series with Carine Roitfeld. Islington Green. Sat. £35 + booking fee. Get bubbly with Veuve Clicquot who, along with Carine Roitfeld, are transforming a slice of Islington into an immersive experience exploring the seven deadly sins. Each ticket includes one glass of the good stuff.

Faking It. Institute of Making. Sat. Free. No, not fake news, but ‘Faking It’ – a day of fun from UCL experts centred on all things fake where you can paint in virtual reality, use tools and tricks to make wigs, and learn about illusion, counterfeiting and imitation culture. Drop in throughout the day.

Walthamstow Wetlands. 2 Forest Rd, N17 9NH. Ongoing. Free. Walthamstow Reservoir has been undergoing an £8.7 million redevelopment since 2012, and it’s now finally open to the public. Spend the weekend wandering around the largest urban wetland in Europe. It’s going to be a prime wildlife-spotting site, particularly for swans, kestrels and geese. 

Haroon Mirza/HRM199: For a Partnership Society. Zabludowicz Collection. Ongoing. Free. See an electrical storm of light and sound thanks to British artist Haroon Mirza, who’s given the gallery the Frankenstein treatment shocking it with pulses of electricity and installing a sensory deprivation chamber. 


Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair. The Yard. Sun. £4. Fashion hunters can rummage through a melange of jewellery, textiles, womenswear and menswear from the 1900s right through to the ’80s at this vintage-lovers’ favourite.

Hamburg on Tour. The Boiler House. Sat. Free. Soak up the sights, sounds and tastes of Hamburg without having to hop on a plane at this two-day festival highlighting the German city’s cultural offerings. Expect heaps of live music, workshops, and craft-beer tasting.

Riot! Riot! Riot! Protein Studios. Sat. Free. ASOS have teamed up with visual artist and art director Sophia Tassew for this day-long exhibition exploring what it means to be a young person today. Don’t miss the zine fair featuring the likes of gal-dem, Season and Disaster Zine selling their issues. 

Wray’s Yard Pop-Up Shop. Protein Studios. Sat. Free entry. Grab a drink with Wray and Nephew as they pour their white rum for three days straight in Shoreditch. Although cocktails are key, the emphasis is actually on the brand’s new clothing range and you can buy their new clobber ahead of its online drop.

Deep Trash in the Underworld. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Sat. £8-£10. Celebrate Halloween early and find out if witchcraft can overthrow the patriarchy as clubbing and performance art collective Deep Trash raise witches from the ashes with a night of occult rituals, feminist sigil magick, queer zombies and dark techno mixes. 

Hackney Record Fair. EPIC Dalston. Sun. Free entry. Head along to this venture from the gang behind the monthly Hackney Flea Market, where indie types can get hold of rare vinyl and made-with-love fanzines. You’ll also find craft beer, an on-site cafe and DJs playing all day.

Metallica London Pop-Up Shop. 45 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3PD. Sat-Sun. Free entry. If you haven’t managed to bag tickets to Metallica’s sold-out UK tour, you can still get a slice of the heavy-metal action. Head to the band’s very own east London pop-up shop where you can pick up new and exclusive collectible paraphernalia.

Learn to Sing with Deep Throat Choir. Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. Sun. £20. Learn how to belt and bellow like a pro at this workshop with London’s edgiest all-female singing collective. Founder, Luisa Gerstein, will guide wannabe singers through some of the choir’s original compositions as well as some old favourites.


Pexmas Market. Pop Brixton. Sat-Sun. Free entry. The Pexmas team are bringing their wares to Brixton for one weekend, giving Christmas fanatics the chance to stock up on unique gifts from independent designers and makers ahead of the usual rush.

Brockley Market. Lewisham College Car Park. Sat. Free entry. Pay a mid-morning visit to this friendly market full of locally sourced seasonal food. Highlights include organic meats from Jacob’s Ladder, organic veg from Wild Country Organics, excellent Spanish cheeses and chorizo from Flavours of Spain and star-studded street food vendors such as Mike & Ollie and Mother Flipper.



Made London. One Marylebone. Sat-Sun. £10. Get your hands on colourful, beautiful and original crafts and designs at this vast fair showcasing glassware, textiles, jewellery, ceramics and furniture.

Power Up. Science Museum. Sat-Sun. £18, children £14. This new exhibition features 180 playable consoles spanning 40 years of gaming history, from Pong and Pac-Man on venerable Ataris all the way to the latest Oculus Rift VR headsets. Tickets are good for unlimited play on all consoles for 90 minutes, meaning everyone should get a go on their favourites, plus it’s an easy way to get kids interested in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Carrie Fisher’s Birthday at Bobby Fitzpatrick. Sat. Free entry. The retro bar and pizzeria in West Hampstead are celebrating the late Carrie Fisher’s birthday with a special Princess Leia-themed cocktail. The £5 tipple is made with gin, lime and house falernum and anyone who comes dressed as their fave Star Wars character gets their first Princess Leia cocktail for free.

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