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40 spectacular things to do in London this weekend

By Stephanie Hartman

Head down into the chambers below Tower Bridge for an afternoon of atmospheric musical performances, find fresh and flavoursome street food at Tootopia in south London, or discover new documentaries with the return of the Doc-'n'-Roll Film Festival to the capital. Have a hoot, gang! 

Things to do 

No Colour Bar Late, Guildhall Art Gallery, TONIGHT, £10. Guildhall Art Gallery stays open late for this special event themed to complement their current exhibition, 'No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960-1990'. Visitors are encouraged to wear their finest 70s and 80s fashions for an evening of music, theatre, poetry and visual art. 

Lebowski Fest, Brooklyn Bowl London, TONIGHT, £25. Already a successful phenomenon in the States (it started in Kentucky back in 2002), Lebowski Fest hasn't been seen in London since 2009. So Achievers (fans of the Coen brothers' film 'The Big Lebowski') will be delighted to hear it's returning this September for a night of bowling and white russians. 

Smellorama Presents: Perfume and Poetry, Poetry Café, Sat, £30-£40 + booking fee. Discover how to make sensational scents at this fun event from the Smellorama team. Bring along your favourite poem, ballad or haiku to use as inspiration for your fragrant creation and get tips from the essence experts who will be happy to help.

Totally Thames: Bascule Chambers by Iain Chambers, Tower Bridge, Sat-Sun, £25. Bascule chambers are the huge underground holes beneath a bridge into which the counterweights of its road section sink when the bridge is raised. This event is the first to take place in Tower Bridge's chamber, and will feature the premiere of (appropriately named) composer Iain Chambers' work for brass and electronics, 'Bascule Chambers', which is based on a recording of the bridge being lifted. 

Sonos Studio London Open House Weekend, Club Row, all weekend, free. To celebrate the launch of their new space in east London, Sonos Studio are opening the doors to the public with a weekend of programme of events, installations, workshops and musical performances.

Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival, Guildhall Yard, Sun, free. Glistening pearls, donkeys, shirehorses and traditional songs; the Pearly King and Queen Harvest Festival is back in town. As the last Sunday of September rolls around, it's time for Guildhall Yard to welcome the cockney masses for a shindig Dick van Dyke would give his right arm to muscle in on.

Deloitte Ignite, Covent Garden Piazza, Sun, free. The Royal Opera House and Covent Garden Piazza become even more entertaining than usual thanks to this trio of day-long festivals.

London Fashion Weekend, multiple venues, all weekend, £20-£50. Invitation to the Burberry show lost in the post? London Fashion Weekend offers us mere mortals an insider’s perspective on the fashion industry, with trend-led catwalks from big name designers.

London Tattoo Convention, Tobacco Dock, all weekend, £20-£30 adv, £25-£35 on the door, £55 weekend pass. An annual body art festival packed with the best in the business, the London Tattoo Convention is back for an eleventh year in 2015, with more than 400 of the world's most talented tattoo artists confirmed to attend.

Louis Vuitton Series 3, 180 the Strand, all weekend, free. Discover the inspiration behind Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter collection at this bold, beautiful and slightly baffling ‘experimental’ exhibition.

Merge Festival, various Bankside locations, all weekend, free. A collection of creative events and installations will take over venues great and small in the Bankside area for a fifth year in 2015, inviting the public to discover the area's buildings and spaces by interacting with specially designed artworks.

Why Music?, Wellcome Collection, all weekend, free. This partnership between BBC Radio 3 and the Wellcome Collection will explore just what it is about music that moves human beings so completely.

…or check out more events happening in London this weekend.


The Festival of Heat: London Chilli Festival





Eating and drinking

The Festival of Heat: London Chilli Festival, Red Market, Sun, £7.50. The Festival of Heat returns to the capital for a third year in 2015 celebrating every aspect of the tasty chilli. Events are focussed on eating, growing and cooking with the ingredient and are designed for those who like to add a little heat to their mealtimes.

Fare Healthy, Borough Market, Sun, £17. Though perhaps not quite as thorough as a juice cleanse, this festival of food, fitness and wellbeing is sure to leave you feeling a whole lot healthier just by virtue of inspiration. 

Tootopia, various locations, all weekend, free. Tootopia returns for a fourth year to celebrate the glorious food, drink and entertainment that keep the area fun and thriving. Cafes, bars and local restaurants will be hosting various events, with 2015's festival featuring a Foodie Trail mapping out top eateries offering one-off specials.

…or check out the latest restaurant reviews.


Adam Hess – Salmon






Adam Hess – Salmon, Soho Theatre, Fri-Sat, £12.50, £10 concs. You might know the 26-year-old comic for his snappy, offbeat life observations on Twitter (he has 45,000 followers), but he's even funnier as a stand-up, mixing relentlessly entertaining childlike observations with frivolous jokes.

Dara O Briain – Crowd Tickler, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, Sat, £25. Irish motormouth Dara O Briain may be best known for TV hosting work, on 'Mock the Week' and 'The Apprentice You're Fired', but he's easily at his best live on stage. The Bray-born comic barely takes a breath in his solo shows, flitting between intelligent topics and grumpy observations with effortless ease.

Sam Simmons – Spaghetti for Breakfast, Soho Theatre, all weekend, £10-£20. 2015's triumphant Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner Sam Simmons heads straight to London for a Soho Theatre run. This Aussie absurdist is erratic, loud and relentlessly silly, and 'Spaghetti for Breakfast' is his best show yet.

…or check out all the critics’ choice comedy shows.







Live music

Beirut, St John-at-Hackney Church, TONIGHT, £29.50. Indie-folk king Zach Condon reactivates his Beirut project, which sets his beautifully deep voice in songs inspired by a love of European folk music as filtered by a fertile American imagination.

Wet, Ace Hotel London Shoreditch, TONIGHT, free with RSVP. This new NYC trio aren’t as damp as Wet Wet Wet, but their tasteful and relaxed R&B/’80s pop approach means there isn’t exactly a high chance of their spontaneously combusting on stage.

London African Music Festival, various venues, all weekend, free-£25. The annual festival brings dozens of African musicians to London to perform everything from traditional Ethiopian music to Afrobeats over ten days of concerts at venues across town.

…or take a look at all the live music events in London this weekend.


Quantic DJ Set






Quantic DJ Set, Electric Ballroom, TONIGHT, £10-£20. Hear William Holland flex his DJ muscles, with a set that should take in tropical funk, soulful house and other colourful global beats influenced by his current home of Colombia.

NTS Radio and Tief present Beats in Space, Bussey Building/The CLF Art Cafe, TONIGHT, £17.50. Tief's love for deliciously deep house (via post-dubstep, techno and acid tinges) collide with Tim Sweeney's acclaimed, long-running Beats in Space radio show.

UKF London, Building Six, TONIGHT, £18. A huge, drum 'n' bass-focused party at the 3,000-capacity Building Six. Expect big choons from Sub Focus, Cause & Affect, Dimension, Dub Phizix, Flava D, Joker and more.

Optimo, Oval Space, Sat, £12. JD Twitch and Johnny Wilkes, the duo who helped shape Scotland's clubbing culture with Optimo, their eclectic house/techno/all-sorts night at Glasgow's Sub Club, return to London. 


…or see all the parties planned this weekend.







Doc’n Roll Film Festival, Picturehouse Central, all weekend. Doc'n Roll Film Festival returns to the capital for a second year, complete with a roster of films from across the globe and a handful of Q&A sessions with the people making them.

Or at the cinema...

Palio ★★★★☆ As brightly-clad jockeys pelt bareback in a 90-second gallop round the historic main square of Siena, Italy, the horse race billed as the world’s oldest looks for all the world like a shameless tourist-bait charade. What this mesmerising doc reveals, however, is that its blend of ritual, bravado and cunning is hard-wired into the very fabric of the Tuscan city itself. 

Miss You Already Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette look set to jerk tears with this tissues-'n'-issues drama about two besties whose friendship is tested when one encounters personal tragedy. 

Mia Madre The new film from Italian director Nanni Moretti ('The Son's Room') tells of a filmmaker who is working on a movie with an American star and is struggling to hold her life together off the film set.

…or see all of the latest releases.


© Helen Murray






F*ck The Polar Bears, Bush Theatre, Fri-Sat, £20, £12.50 concs. Tanya Ronder's not-quite-great play about the cost of a perfect life.

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House, Sat, £6-£127. The Royal Ballet's old war horse is still handsome, but not so sexy. 

You Me Bum Bum Train, TBC. With its ridiculous name and its glorious refusal to make its home in a genre (it’s *sort* of theatre, but it’s also *sort* of a game and it’s *sort* of like nothing else on earth), ‘You Me Bum Bum Train’ – the brainchild of the monumentally imaginative Kate Bond and Morgan Lloyd – takes you into the unknown. It's totally sold out but you can still volunteer to be part of it. 

Calm Down, Dear – A Festival of Feminism, Camden People's Theatre, all weekend, £12, £10 concs. Camden People's Theatre's Festival of Feminism returns for a third year. Leading this year's offerings is Louise Orwin's London premiere of 'A Girl and a Gun' following her hit 'Pretty Ugly' last year.

…or see our theatre critics’ choices.






This week's best new art

Albert the kid is ghosting, David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF), Fri-Sat, free. Works from the David Roberts collection featuring Etel Adnan, Ida Applebroog, Philip Guston, Sergej Jensen, Hans Josephsohn, Oscar Murillo, Andreas Slominski, Michael E. Smith and one mystery artist are brought together in an unsettling mise-en-scene environment.

Studio Leigh, Shoreditch, Fri-Sat, free. Form meets function in the first of Studio Leigh's commissioned editions.

Deptford X, venues in Deptford, all weekend, free. The established South London art-fest returns with another ambitious line-up of exhibitions and events in galleries, studios and other venues across Deptford. 

Kemang Wa Lehulere: Sincerely yours, Gasworks, all weekend, free. Concerned with how our history plagues our present, Wa Lehulere creates a hypothetical narrative between his present and the past of Sol T. Plaatje, a South African intellectual who travelled to England in the early twentieth century in a new site-specific work.  

…or see all London art reviews.

And finally

Win... a Condor Lavoro bike, a gear bundle and tickets to Six Day London or one of 50 pairs of exclusive tickets to Tate Modern’s 'The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop'

Grab... a £49 deal for an afternoon tea for two at The Bloomsbury Hotel

Book... these gigs while you still can

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