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32 brilliant things to do in London this weekend

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The first week of November means bonfires and fireworks galore across the capital. Aside from the sparkling explosions, you can eat veggie treats at the Walthamstow Vegan Market, stock up on San Fran style at Nasty Gal’s London pop-up or have a slide across the Natural History Museum’s festive-filled ice rink. It’s going to be a banger. 

 

CENTRAL

The Museum of Drug Policy. Ugly Duck. Sat-Sun. Free. Head to Bermondsey where this cool experimental project is popping up following stints in New York and Montreal. It’s the work of Release, a UK charity dishing out free, non-judgmental and confidential advice about drugs. See an interactive exhibition about how drug laws shape societies, discover America’s industrial prison system at a free screening of documentary ‘13th’, and get clued up about drugs and nightlife at a talk led by east London’s Oval Space.

Doc‘n Roll Film Festival. Various London venues. Until Nov 19. Prices vary. Catch over two-dozen top-notch music films as this film fest rolls back into town, from flicks about Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane to the Manchester house scene and terrifying punk ledge GG Allin. Don’t miss screenings of ‘Manchester Keeps on Dancing’ at Rio Cinema Dalston on Friday and ‘Bill Frisell: A Portrait’ at the Curzon in Soho.

Nasty Gal Pop-Up. 3-4 Carnaby Street. Until Nov 29. Free entry. Girl bosses can shop the San Fran brand’s latest collection, attend inspiring talks and customise a T-shirt at this fabulous pop-up. There’s also an onsite Benefit brow bar, a Wah Nails station, and a Bleach London ‘Hairmoji Bar’ to get you looking glam.   

Young Marx. Bridge Theatre. Until Dec 31. £15-£65. Hytner’s Bridge Theatre has opened with this new comedy about Karl Marx. See the brand new fancy theatre for yourself and relish Rory Kinnear’s brilliant Marx.

Cezanne Portraits. National Portrait Gallery. Ongoing. £18. Head along to the show of, you know, portraits. By Cezanne. They’re experimental, powerful and totally gorgeous.

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White. National Gallery. Ongoing. £16. Six hundred years of monochrome painting has made its way to the National Gallery and it’s way better than it sounds. If anything, this show will make you seriously appreciate life’s vivid colours.  

 

NORTH

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival. Alexandra Palace. Sat. £11. This easily one of the biggest and baddest displays in town. Watch fireworks exploding over a panoramic view of London, see a huge fire parade and visit a craft beer festival and this bonfire extravaganza.

Walthamstow Vegan Market. Wild Card Brewery. Sun. Free. Find a selection of delicious vegan treats at this market, handily held at Wild Card so you can pick up booze at the same time. Weekend sorted.

Brent Fireworks Display. Brent Civic Centre. Sat. Free. Wembley Stadium’s arch and bright lights will provide a dramatic backdrop from 6pm for all those bangs and sparkles.

Harrow Fireworks Display. Byron Recreation Ground. Sat. £6. ‘Hollywood’ is the theme of Harrow’s offering, with rockets set to tunes from classic movies.

E17 Designers’ Christmas Market. Asian Centre. Sun. Free entry. Swap the clamour of Oxford Street for an afternoon browsing the wares of independent designers, artists and local crafters. Expect contemporary jewellery, ceramics and prints, plus seasonal treats from Suzie Cakes and live music.

 

EAST

Paper Dress Vintage 10th Birthday. Paper Dress Vintage. Fri-Sat. £6-£10. Get down to this big bash with bands, DJs fireworks, go-go dancers and loads of birthday cake to chomp your way through as this Hackney institution celebrates a decade on the London scene. Don’t miss this adult-size ball pit for maximum regression.

Pop-up Record Shop in a Pub. Prince George. Sat-Sun. Free entry. Dig through record crates at this pop-up shop housed in a Dalston boozer. A free can of beer will be given out with every vinyl purchase.  

Hattie Stewart: Doodlebomb. KK Outlet. Until Nov 18. Free. Join the launch of an awesome new sticker book and exhibition by London’s very own professional doodler Hattie Stewart, best known for ‘doodlebombing’ over influential magazines and media. The party to kick it all off starts at 7pm on Saturday, but if you can’t make it the exhibition runs until Nov 18.

Victoria Park Fireworks. Victoria Park. Sun. Free. The People’s Park is on Guy Fawkes duty again, lighting up Hackney with a sparkling 7pm display that won’t cost you a penny.

Guy Fawkes Night in Newham. Wanstead Flats. Sun. Free. When a fireworks night is named after the man himself it better be banging. Her the pows and pfooms explode over Wanstead Flats at 6.30pm.

Skylight. Tobacco Dock. Ongoing. Free entry. After entertaining us this summer with lawn bowls and croquet lawns, the rooftop joint has come over all festive on us with a wintery makeover. Over the frosty season the Wapping bar will be home to London’s first rooftop ice rink and the festive booze will be flowing.

Roof East. Ongoing. Free entry. This hip east London rooftop joint’s wintery incarnation has arrived. Say hello to rooftop curling, glass igloo dining dens and a ski-lodge bar.

Hackney Flea Market. Abney Hall. Sat-Sun. Free entry. Get your mitts on jewellery, fabrics, maps, vinyl kitchenalia, vintage clothes and products from local markets.

Party Like It’s Your B’day. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Sat. £5. If you want sugary pop, balloons, bubbles, glitter and sausages on sticks, get down to this night of fun.

Reasons to Be Cheerful. Theatre Royal Stratford East. Sat. £10-£32. The Graeae Theatre’s joyous Ian Dury and the Blockheads musical has come to east London. It’s super-fun and supremely likeable.

Canary Wharf Ice Rink. Canada Square Park. Opens Sat. £14.50. The ice rink at Canary Wharf is back, filling the business district with frosty fun. The 80-metre long rink is open for 16 weeks of skating, and there’s a dedicated children’s rink and a winter-themed bar serving festive drinks.

 

SOUTH

Crystal Palace Park Fireworks. Crystal Palace Park. Sun. £8.50.  As well as dinosaurs and a miniature railway, this kooky park gets another attraction when its annual fireworks display rolls into town.

Blackheath Fireworks. Blackheath. Sat. Free. As one of the capital major fireworks displays that’s still free, massive crowds of up to 100,000 head down to this Guy Fawkes bash. Colourful fairground rides will take over the heath at noon, food and drink stalls will open at 5pm, and the display starts at 8pm.

Wimbledon Park Fireworks. Wimbledon Park. Sat. £8. You’ll find two displays here: the first is Disney-themed and the second a more elaborate affair with bigger bangs. Both begin with a bonfire.

Barnes Bonfire Night. Barnes Sports Club. Sat. £15. This traditional celebration features a best guy competition and an official lighting of the big bonfire.

Battersea Park Fireworks. Battersea Park. Sat. £10. Award-winning pyrotechnicians are behind the ‘Power’-themes illuminations at this bonfire bash.

Lambeth Fireworks. Brockwell Park. Sat. £10. Catch a movie-themed, sparkling display, plus a funfair, bars and plenty of entertainment from local performers.

Mother Kelly’s. 76 Albert Embankment. Have weekend drink at our bar of the week – a bottle shop and taproom housed in a roomy archway. You won’t find a better selection this good anywhere in London – we promise.

 

WEST

Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Natural History Museum. Until Jan 7. Prices vary. Feel festive by gliding along this enchanted rink, backdropped by the Alfred Waterhouse buildings, a row of trees dripping fairy lights and a majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the ice.

Pergola Paddington Central. Until Dec 23. Free entry. Snuggle up into a bar-issued blanket at west London’s newly reopened pergola. Warm your frosty fingers on a mulled wine (or a bowl of ramen from Tonkotsu) and settle in for a night of stargazing/smooching.

Zheng. 4 Sydney St. Our restaurant of the week is this slick Malaysian restaurant off the Kings Road. The food is outstanding and, what’s more, you can eat here without spending silly money.  

 

Finally... 

Book... Tickets to the London Jazz Festival. Get up to 37 percent off tickets to the iconic London music festival.

Read... Ice skating in London

Grab...  Tickets to the best London theatre shows

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