40 original things to do after work

Instead of heading down the pub, why not try some of the inspiring, unique and stimulating activities that the early evening offers Londoners?

  • Rock around the clock: from 6-7pm | 7-8pm | 8-9pm | 9-10pm

    Wednesday Late at the National Gallery.jpg
    6-7pm: Wednesday Late at the National Gallery


    Victorian twilight encounters at Linley Sambourne House

    As the servants prepare to serve dinner at the home of artist Linley Sambourne, an unexpected intrusion unravels a tale of scandal and deceit behind closed doors… If you're not the type to snigger uneasily when actors interact with you, this 'encounter' tour of a townhouse complete with original furniture and fittings is an atmospheric taste of Victorian life.Linley Sambourne House, 18 Stafford Terrace, W8 (020 7471 9156/www.rbkc.gov.uk/linleysambournehouse) High St Kensington tube. Tours run from 6-7.30pm and 8-9pm, £20. Next: Dec 12 and 13.

    Go to a National Gallery gig

    There's live music (of the genteel harp/string quartet variety), talks and a bar in the Sainsbury Wing foyer every Wednesday. The 'Picture in Focus' talks at 6pm look at a single painting in depth, or there are ten-minute bite-size talks at 7pm. See the website for details of which paintings will feature. The gallery is also hosting monthly events to enhance the 'Renaissance Siena' exhibition (next: Dec 5) at which there will be Sienese food, wine and music.National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2 (020 7747 2885/www.nationalgallery.org.uk) Charing Cross tube. Wed 6-9pm.

    Book a laughter workout

    Why? Because laughing triggers your endorphins and qualifies as an aerobic workout, that's why. Laughter coach Carrie stresses that you don't even need to bring a sense of humour or a stock of jokes with you, which is probably just as well if you've been in meetings all afternoon.The Meeting Room, Neal's Yard, WC2 (07789 954972/www.laughternetwork.co.uk) Covent Garden tube. Workshops are monthly and run from 6.30-8.15pm, £15. Next: Dec 21 and Jan 22.

    Take an Art safari

    Organised by the Rational Gallery, these informal tours of trendy private galleries can be arranged for a Thursday evening if you phone in advance. Starting at 6pm, your guide will take you to the latest shows at Haunch of Venison and the Photographers' Gallery, plus one other of your choice if you can manage to bunk off work at 5.30pm. Toothache, was it? Groups of ten are ideal, for more details contact (020 8881 0633/info@therationalgallery.co.uk). Times and meeting points vary, £20.

    After hours at Tate Britain

    Relax with a drink and enjoy exhibitions, performances, music, talks and films on the evening of the first Friday of each month.Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1 (020 7887 8888/www.tate.org.uk) Pimlico tube. Fri Lates 6-9.30pm, exhibitions half price, other events are free. Next: Dec 7.

    Reignite your career

    If you've spent your working day in a state of arm-chewing desperation, this could be the answer: a workshop offering guidance on changing your career. Even if it doesn't help, you'll be eating nibbles in the company of fellow sufferers. There's an ongoing programme of other events, too, and there is a range of useful features online.The Hub, 5 Torrens St, EC1 (www.careershifters.org/events) Angel tube. Open 6-8.30pm, £20. Next: Dec 19.

    Design Overtime at the Design Museum

    The Design Museum hosts themed events on Friday evenings every other month; the next is a Christmas warm-up called 'Sparkle the Dark Up' featuring The Actionettes, the all-girl '60s dance troupe. Learn how to make decorations, decorate gingerbread people, drink mulled wine and try not to think about your impending office party. Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1 (0870 909 9009/www.designmuseum.org) London Bridge tube/rail. Next: Dec 7, 6-10pm, £5.

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    Sweaty Betty running club

    Sign up for Sweaty Betty's

    The free running club for women only. 'Turn up with a good sports bra, your trainers and a smile,' they say, somewhat unnervingly. Battersea: Tue, 6.30pm, from 136 Northcote Rd, SW11 (020 7978 5444); Chiswick: Wed, 6.30pm, from 62 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 (020 8747 6789); Fulham: Mon, 6.30, from 833 Fulham Rd, SW6 (020 7610 83 90); Richmond: Mon, 6.15pm, from 4 Red Lion St, Richmond (020 8948 8459).

    Boost your brain cells

    The buzzing Dana Centre for popular science holds events most Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, plus one Friday per month. Topics up for discussion range from living under the threat of disease (Nov 28), fear (Nov 29) and how to have a green Christmas (Dec 4). The bar stays open until 9pm in case your brain cells need refreshment.The Dana Centre, 165 Queen's Gate, SW7 (020 7942 4040/www.danacentre.org.uk) Gloucester Rd or South Kensington tube. Events start at 6.30pm or 7pm and are free. Next: Nov 28.


    Talk at the British Library

    The gallery is open until 8pm on Tuesdays, and there is also an extensive programme of talks, with topics ranging from Wagner to black entrepreneurs, plus concerts. Events are linked to the current exhibition, currently 'Breaking the Rules' about artistic movements, which runs until Mar 30. Times and prices vary.British Library, 96 Euston Rd, NW1 (020 7412 7332/www.bl.uk) King's Cross tube/rail.

    Get your craft on

    Monday nights were made for this: getting crafty in a small west London club. Differing craft packs each month – make a Christmas fairy for the top of your tree on Dec 10 – for the first 120 people through the door, the point being to share the colours and materials and get you talking with the folk next to you. DJs, bands and oddball performers complete your night.Notting Hill Arts Club, Notting Hill Gate, W11 (www.nottinghillartsclub.com) Notting Hill Gate tube. Next: Dec 10, 7pm-1am, £7.

    Savour Sir John Soane's

    One of Time Out's favourite treasure troves, the eighteenth-century house of the famous architect, with his vast collection of art and antiquities intact holds a justly popular candlelit evening on the first Tuesday of each month. Tickets go on sale at 10.30am the same morning. Sir John Soane's Musuem, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2 (020 7405 2107/www.soane.org) Holborn tube. Tue 6-9pm, £5. Next: Dec 4.

    Christmas art auctions

    A street art auction aiding SOS, the world's largest orphan charity. Works donated by international artists including Blek le Rat, FAFI, Dave Kinsey and NYC's Crash and Daze, plus those created by the Los Angeles-based spit artist Albert Reyes and Bristol's Mr Jago who will be painting in the courtyard. Not got the pockets to be a collector? Then just enjoy roast chestnuts, marshmallows and DJs spinning funk. Cargo, 83 Rivington St, EC2 (www.cargo-london.com) Liverpool St tube/rail. Auction from 7pm, free. Next: Dec 7.

    Jitterbug and lindy hop

    The London Swing Cats teach the jitterbug and lindy hop every Tuesday at Swing Cats Corner in Euston, and also in a class before a monthly swing party in the gorgeous Bush Hall. Swing Cats Corner, St Aloysius Social Club, 20 Phoenix Rd, NW1 (www.londonswingcats.com) Euston tube/rail. Every Tue. Beginners' class 7.15pm, intermediate 8pm, £8 incl classes.
    Rattle'n'Roll, Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Rd, W12 (020 8222 6933) Goldhawk Rd tube. Fri doors 7.30pm, class 9pm, band & DJs 11.15pm, £10.

    Invigorating art chat

    Stimulating discussion with four female artists who use film and photography to investigate role reversal, sexual ambiguities and voyerism. Four Corners, 121 Roman Rd, E2 (020 8981 6111/www.fourcornersfilm.co.uk) Bethnal Green tube. 'No Ball Games' runs until Dec 8. Artist talk is Nov 29, 7-8.30pm, free.

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    Ceilidh dancing at Cecil Sharp House

    Scottish country dancing at the Ceilidh Club

    This friendly folk venue holds a ceilidh on Friday nights from 7.15pm, or the adventurous could book English folk-dancing lessons which also take place most evenings. Bear in mind what Sir Thomas Beecham said about incest and morris dancing, though.Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent's Park Rd, NW1 (020 7485 2206/www.ceilidhclub.com) Camden Town tube. £12.50. Next: Nov 30.

    Winter walks

    London Walks organise four evening walks on a Wednesday: a 'Literary London Pub Walk' (meet at Holborn tube), an 'Along the Thames Pub Walk' (meet at Blackfriars tube), a walk called 'Ghosts, Gaslight and Guinness' (meet at Holborn tube). There also a 'Jack the Ripper Walk' every evening (meet at Tower Hill tube).Walks start at 7.30pm, take place in all weathers and cost £6. See www.walks.com for full details.

    Learn to play futsal

    Futsal is five-a-side football South American style (Ronaldinho and Zinedane Zidane are both fans of the game), so it's best to brush up on your keepie-uppie skills before you join in. There are drop-in games at Harrow Club on Monday evenings from 8.30-10.30pm.Harrow Club, 187 Freston Rd, W10 (07931 766833/www.activeplanet.org.uk) Latimer Rd tube.


    Crash an exhibition launch

    Open for just a couple of months, exhibitions at Shoreditch gallery Concrete Hermit has exhibitions that change monthly. Next up: the ten-strong Peepshow Collective. Worth crashing!Concrete Hermit, 5 Club Row, E1 (020 7729 2646/www.concretehermit.com) Liverpool St tube/rail. Daily 10am-6pm (until 9pm first Thur of month. Peepshow Collective's 'Many Hands Make More Work' Nov 29, 6pm-9pm, free.

    Rock 'n' Roll at Paris Rock Club

    Let's go to the hop. Two weekly classes, one in south London, the other out west. Every Monday at the Waterloo Action Centre, 14a Baylis Rd, SE1 (www.parisrockclub.com) Waterloo tube/rail. Beginners & improvers 6-7.15pm, intermediate 7.15-8.15pm. £6 per class.
    Every Thur at the Chiswick Tennis Club, corner of Burlington Lane and Staveley Rd, W4. Chiswick tube. Beginners 8pm, intermediates 9pm, dance practice 9.45pm. £6 per class.

    The brilliant British Museum

    The British Museum is open till 8.30pm every Thursday and Friday, but the cafés in the Great Court stay open till 9pm Thursday to Saturday, so if you're too bushed to stagger round an exhibition after a hard day at work, take your novel, gaze at Foster's roof or arrange to meet friends. British Museum, Great Russell St, WC1B (020 7323 8000/www.britishmuseum.org) Holborn or Tottenham Court Rd tube. Great Court open Sun-Wed 9am-6pm, Thur-Sat 9am-11pm.

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    The Museum in Docklands

    More museum adventures

    Both museums open until 9pm on the first Thursday of each month. Museum in Docklands, West India Quay, E14 (www.museumindocklands.org.uk) West India Quay DLR. Next: Dec 6, free from 4.30pm with London Community Gospel Choir: Carols and Sprituals.
    Museum of London 150 London Wall, EC2 (0870 444 3851/www.museumoflondon.org.uk) St Paul's or Barbican tube. Next: Dec 6, free from 6pm with klezmer music, carols, a bar, seasonal stall from jewellery-maker Tatty Divine.

    Wellcome's marvellous medicine show

    The medical exhibition centre is open until 10pm every Thursday, with weekly talks in the first-floor Forum tackling a wide variety of topics. There's a great Oliver Peyton café, too.Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Rd, NW1 (020 7611 2222/www.wellcomecollection.org) Euston tube/rail.

    The V

    The museum is open till 10pm on Fridays, and on the last Friday of each month there's a special event with live music, DJs and hands-on activities. The next is a behind-the-scenes look at haute couture, tying in with 'The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957'.V&A, Cromwell Rd, SW7 (020 7942 2820/www.vam.ac.uk) South Kensington tube. Fri 6.30-9.30pm, free. Next: Nov 30.

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    Dodgem car racing at Namco, County Hall


    Skate late

    London's biggest ice rink is in Hyde Park this year and the final skate session is 9pm-10pm. There's also a German Christmas market, a Ferris wheel and an indoor bungie dome. Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park Corner tube. Dec 1-Jan 6, 10am-10pm. Ice-skating, adults £10-£12.50. www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

    Go dodgem car racing

    Bash 'em up, boy racer, in what they say are some of the fastest cars in Europe. There are also seven full-sized American pool tables, two floors of bowling, a massive games arcade and bars. Ring before visiting in the party season.Namco, County Hall (020 7967 1066/www.namcoexperience.com/countyhall) Westminster tube. Daily 10am-12midnight, £2 per car for four minutes.

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    Peter Kennedy's 24-hour pottery studio in N22

    Throw a pot!

    Peter Kennedy's pottery studio offers 24-hour access. Thirty desks are rented out individually; come and go as you please.Unit D, second floor, Cypress House, 2 Coburg Rd, N22 (020 8889 5222/www.petrweigl.com) Wood Green tube. £100 per month, no joining fee.

    Christmas Shows

    Christmas Number Won

    Scottee, Bourgeois & Maurice chart 55 years of Christmas Number Ones.VauxhallVille, The RVT, 372 Kennington Lane, SE11 (020 7820 1222) Vauxhall tube/rail. Nov 29, 9pm, £5.


    Strictly adults-only annual Battersea Barge panto.
    Battersea Barge, Nine Elms Lane (behind FedEx building), SW8 (020 7498 0004/www.batterseabarge.com) Vauxhall tube/rail. Dec 2-3, 8.30pm, £12.

    The 7 Fingers present Loft Alternative

    Xmas acrobatic affair, with DJ.
    The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 (020 7424 9991/www.roundhouse.org.uk) Chalk Farm tube. Dec 6-30 (not Mondays), 7pm, £10-£25.

    The Xmas Factor

    Alt-drag panto featuring Snow White on skid row. Bistrotheque, 23-27 Wadeson St, E2 (020 8983 7900/www.bistrotheque.com) Bethnal Green tube. Fri and Sat from Nov 30-Dec 22, 9pm, £12.50.

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    The London Eye and Southbank Centre

    Down by the river

    The National Theatre's bite-sized pre-performance Platforms usually start at 6pm and cost only £3.50. Authors and playwrights discussing their works include Kwame Kwei-Armah & Jeremy Herrin (Nov 30) and Ian Hislop (Dec 4). The foyer of the Lyttleton Theatre hosts live music most evenings from 5.45pm. The emphasis is on jazz, acoustic folk and Latin music. Another option for early evening visitors to the National is to take the excellent backstage tour. Last entry is at 5.30pm, booking essential. The London Eye is still fantastic; it's open until 8pm over the winter when it's less swarming with tourists, plus you'll see the illuminated South Bank from above. National Theatre, Southbank Centre, SE1 (020 7452 3000/www.nationaltheatre.org.uk) Waterloo tube/rail. London Eye, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 (www.londoneye.com) Waterloo tube/rail.

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