From 8.30pm to 9.30pm on Sat Mar 25 London is being plunged into darkness. No, it’s not the start of the apocalypse – the lights are going out as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour, an annual demonstration where millions of people from around the globe turn out their lights for one hour to raise awareness on climate change.
This year marks Earth Hour’s tenth anniversary, with more than 178 countries expected to take part. In addition to flicking off your switches at home, here are seven things you can do on Earth Day and throughout the year to celebrate the planet and enjoy the capital after dark.
1. Step into the darkness
See London’s iconic landmarks in a whole new, er, light. Well, not exactly. Blockbuster monuments like the Gherkin, Piccadilly Circus, Harrods and The Ritz are just a few of the London icons switching off their lights for Earth Hour. Have an amble through the city on Saturday and see it looking mighty naked without its usual floodlights.
2. Join some starlit storytelling
Become a night-time flâneur and stroll the city after dark by joining a starlit storytelling evening with professional myth-makers London Dreamtime and photographer Saira Naizi. The location is secret (the best ones always are), so visit their website for more information. ‘Darkness’: A night walk with Living London. Secret location in South Kensington. 7pm. Sat Mar 25. £3-£6.
3. Bike in the pitch black
Cycle through the city with iBike’s booming fleet of disco bikes in their Earth Hour Bike Ride. The ride starts at their usual spot outside the Southbank’s BFI and will take you on a radical route around the capital, taking in the sights and sounds and ending on the South Bank to see all the buildings switch off their lights at 8.30pm. Earth Hour Bike Ride. Meet outside the BFI, South Bank. 5.30pm Sat Mar 25. Free.
4. Catch some candlelit theatre
Squint your way through a performance of John Webster’s revenge tragedy ‘The White Devil’ at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Globe’s candlelit indoor theatre. It’s ambient, intense and claustrophobic, but most importantly, it’ll do wonders for your ecological footprint. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Southwark. Until Apr 15. From £26.
5. Scoff in the shadows
You don’t have wait for Saturday to turn down the dimmer on your dinner. At Clerkenwell’s Dans le Noir? diners are asked to feast in the restaurant’s pitch-black basement dining room every night. The esoteric experience aims to heighten the taste, smell and texture of the food. Before tucking in, the waiters let you select one of four colour-coded mystery menus: red (meat), blue (fish), green (vegetarian) and white (chef’s special). Be prepared to ditch your knife and fork and enter a sensory culinary adventure. If eating in the pitch black sounds far too messy, try one of these candlelit alternatives instead. Dans le Noir? Farringdon. Set dinner £42 two courses, £51 three courses.
6. Drink in the dark
Raise a glass to Earth Hour with an immersive drinking session at Pitch Black in Covent Garden, the bar that plunges its guests into darkness for a 90-minute blind booze tasting. Don’t fret, they won’t lead you into a blackened basement, Bram Stoker-style: you’ll be welcomed into a cosy den before the ‘experience’ begins. Does it turn you into a sommelier daredevil? Probably not. But the Pitch Black folks know their booze, so you’re in safe hands. No Such Place. Covent Garden. From £45. Advance booking required.
7. Have a candlelit gander
See two of London’s favourite museums under the warm glow of flickering candle light. Dickens after Dark opens up The Charles Dickens' Museum’s Georgian interiors for twilight browsing, as well as a candlelight bar and live acoustic music. While the marvellous Sir John Soane’s Museum opens from 6pm to 9pm on the first Tuesday of every month for candlelit tours.
Remember, you’re not limited to just that 60-minute blackout, so why not take yourself on an adventure to see London without the carbon footprint: head to the South Bank to watch the Thames glisten, go stargazing on Hampstead Heath or see St Paul’s Cathedral in the dead of night. We’re all tourists after dark.