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12 awesome events to brighten up the autumn nights

From bonfires and Diwali to giant wands and glowing giraffes, these are the brightest events lighting up London this autumn

Written by
Alexandra Sims

The clocks have gone back, there are crunchy leaves on the ground and you've had to dig out your winter coat, but don’t hibernate yet. With Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali and Christmas coming, there are loads of awesome events brightening up the city. From awesome firework displays to a Diwali-Bonfire Night mashup, as well as loads of festive fun, we've picked out the best events you can't miss this autumn.

The one that will put a spell on you
  • Music
  • London

Nine giant gleaming Harry Potter wands have landed on the walkway between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge. Modelled on some of the trusty wands owned by the series’s best-loved characters, the ‘Fantastic Beasts: Wizarding World Wands’ installation is raising awareness for JK Rowling’s children’s charity Lumos. From 6.45pm every evening, these 15-foot glowsticks will beam down luminous pools, kicking off a light show complete with music (presumably nu rave) that runs every 30 minutes until 10.45pm. (Muggles are welcome, btw.)

  • Museums
  • Military and maritime
  • Greenwich

Watch the Thames sparkle as the National Maritime Museum sends a lantern-filled procession to the riverside at sunset for its Festival of Lights celebration. Anyone can drop by the all-day Diwali celebrations for drumming workshops, lantern-making and lessons in rangoli art – the Indian tradition of creating colourful patterns on the floor with rice, sand and flowers. When darkness falls, take your creations to the Thamesside gathering and give the bright lights of Canary Wharf a run for their money.

The biggest Diwali day in the UK
  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Neasden

The North Circular’s answer to the Taj Mahal, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a gloriously ornate Hindu temple. It’s an astounding sight at any time of the year, but in November it’s even more beautiful as it hosts the largest Diwali and Hindu New Year celebrations in the country. During the Festival of Lights it fills with row upon row of flickering oil lamps called ‘deepa’. And it’s not just a pretty sight – the lights have a spiritual signficance, too, symbolising the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. See the twinkling main hall when it’s open all day on November 7 for religious ceremonies and rituals, before a sparkling barrage of fireworks brings the day to a close with a bang.

  • Attractions
  • Religious buildings and sites
  • Walthamstow

Things will be feeling mighty Dickensian at St Mary’s Church in Walthamstow as the electricity is turned off and scores of candles are placed carefully around the pews for this atmospheric tour. Candlelit Tales will see flames dance over the twelfth-century chapel as guides Jacqueline and David Baker recount fascinating stories of the great and good (some less good, probably) characters that have called the borough home throughout history. It’s probably not one for those who get spooked easily, but there will coffee and cake awaiting those who make it to the end.

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