Autumn is in full swing come November. The evenings are longer and the days chillier, but that's no reason to hide inside. London has tons of ace events to offer throughout the month. The biggie is Bonfire Night and the many glorious firework displays taking place across the city, but once that's over – there's much more.
We've got Christmas lights starting to illuminate the capital, ice rinks appearing and winter pop-ups popping-up everywhere, serving mercifully warming booze and mulled wine. Plus loads of exciting new exhibitions and plays to keep you entertained. Here's our pick of the best things to do in London this November.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our November 2018 highlights
November in London begins with an abundance of Bonfire Night fireworks to warm us all up (Monday November 5 2018). Wrap up snug, head to one of the capital's many firework displays, and enjoy a show of spectacular colours over London's top attractions and beyond.
November is the month when London gets transformed into the sparkliest, blingiest, most festive place on earth with the switching on of Christmas lights all over town. There's nothing like the sparkle of London Christmas lights to give the city an instant festive makeover.
November in London means the beginning of all things festive and, naturally, the opening of major ice rinks around town. So whether you dance on ice like Christopher Dean or scramble around like Bambi, the capital's outdoor ice rinks are some of the most magical locations you can visit this season. Here's a round-up of all the best London ice skating rinks to twirl around on this year.
Looking for gift inspiration? Look no further than London's Christmas markets and fairs, which start to pop up all over town from mid-November. Among a raft of special festive events you'll find foodie gifts, hand-crafted pressies and usually a bit of glühwein to help you get into that merry spirit.
It is the ultimate musical about male privilege, a show about an under-qualified, over-entitled white guy who shambles his way to public adoration by blithely inflicting bankrupt baby boomer values upon a bunch of impressionable people who don’t know any better. ‘School of Rock – The Musical’ is also quite good fun. I dunno if it’s the state of the world today, the fact I haven’t seen the Jack Black-starring film, the fact that so much has changed – musically and politically – since the film came out in 2003, or simply the knowledge that it’s written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes, a couple of Tory lords in their late ’60s, but I felt a bit politically uneasy about ‘School of Rock’, which follows schlubby charlatan Dewey (David Fynn) as he masquerades as a teacher and proves a hit by tearing up his sensitive young charges’ syllabus and making them play old person music. Its big, catchy number is called ‘Stick It to the Man’. Yet there’s something both problematic and ironic about the fact that in Laurence Connor’s production The Man is represented by two women – Florence Andrews’s hard-working, professional headmistress Rosalie and Preeya Kalidas’s Patty, a hard-working, professional wife-to-Dewey’s best friend Ned – while in the blue corner we have... Dewey, a self-absorbed bum who everything turns out brilliantly for. Despite apparently being somewhere in his thirties – so presumably born around 1980 – Dewey exclusively loves classic rock bands, and mocks
'Faulty Towers: the Dining Experience' returns for 2017. This review is from the 2012 run. Farty Towels; Watery Fowls; Flowery Twats; the misspelling of Fawlty Towers's sign was a marvellous running gag. It was never spelt with a 'u', though, as it is in 'Faulty Towers the Dining Experience'. But despite being an unofficial tribute to John Cleese's legendary '70s sitcom, this interactive dinner-show – created by Australian company Interactive Theatre International –?captures the programme's spirit surprisingly well. Having ordered our drinks at the pricey bar, Basil Faulty (with a 'u', remember) calls each dining group to be seated. My scruffy clothes didn't go down well with the neurotic host. 'Haven't you heard of a shirt and tie?' he asked, disgusted, before directing us to table seven. Basil, Sybil and Manuel (Polly's 'got the night off', we're told) act as waiting staff, wandering between tables, interacting with guests, and performing longer set-pieces between courses which loosely recreate classic scenes from the series – pet rat, fire drill, goose-stepping etc. The trio are convincing impersonators, expertly nailing Cleese, Scales and Sachs's voices and mannerisms, and mingle seamlessly with the diners, making sure to involve each guest but never humiliate them. What's disappointing is the lack of a through-line. The skits are hardly linked, meaning the evening doesn't build to much of a conclusion. The food, too, isn't exactly haute cuisine. The soup was tasty, b
Ian McKellen began his West End career at Duke of York's Theatre in 1964. Now he's back at the same venue, and tackling one of Shakespeare's most challenging roles. Director Jonathan Munby's intimate production of 'King Lear' opened at Chichester Festival Theatre last October to rave reviews. It transfers to London for 100 performances, in a rejigged auditorium that'll remove large numbers of stalls seats to put audiences cheek by jowl with McKellen's performance. 'King Lear' opens on 11th July. Tickets are on sale from noon on 8th February. There will also be £5 tickets on the door each day for young people aged 16-25: proof of age ID required.
Stephen Sondheim's witty, endlessly charming musical about a bachelor in New York is getting a revival by West End heavyweight Marianne Elliott ('The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time', 'War Horse'). Except for the first time ever, its central character Bobby will be a woman. Rosalie Craig will play Bobbi, now a woman in her 30s who's rebelling against her married friends' insistence that she should settle down. Elliott has also secured legendary Broadway star Patti LuPone to play Joanne, bringing her back in the West End for the first time in over 25 years. She's proved her skill as a Sondheim interpreter at a series of concerts for the great man's birthday, including a fearsome rendition of 'Company's best known song, 'The Ladies Who Lunch'. And 'Bake Off' star Mel Giedroyc will show off her singing talents, too, joining the cast in the role of Sarah.
French playwright extraordinaire Florian Zeller has already had West End hits with slippery infidelity comedies 'The Truth' and 'The Father'. Now, he's back with a drama about a long-married couple whose lives are thrown off-kilter by an unexpected visitor. 'The Height of the Storm' stars Jonathan Pryce, whose long career has included film roles in 'Glengarry Glen Ross' and 'Evita', and multi-award winning actor Dame Eileen Atkins ('The Hours', 'Cranford'). Jonathan Kent directs, using a translation by Christopher Hampton.
Captain Fred Roberts might be at war, but he hasn't lost his sense of humour. 'The Wipers Times' is the story of a First World War soldier's mission to publish a satirical mag ridiculing the enermy. Written by seasoned satirist Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, this historical drama plays the Arts Theatre after a national tour.
‘Caroline, or Change’ will transfer to the Playhouse Theatre Nov 20-Feb 9. This review is from its March run at the Hampstead Theatre It’s Louisiana, 1963. Change is in the air, in theory. But household maid Caroline is still stuck in a stuffy basement, pulling loose change from her employers’ pockets. Tony Kushner’s semi-autobiographical opera picks over his childhood memories, exploring the injustices that he, a spoilt, sad eight-year-old, was half-blind to. I’ve said ‘opera’ because that’s what Kushner has called it: like his ‘Angels in America’, it’s a work that’s hard to classify, mixing close emotional naturalism with metaphysical flourishes. And in this case, a singing tumble dryer who’s as utterly miserable at being trapped in the basement as Caroline is. Caroline’s misery lies, partly, in her solitude, isolated from her community in a white family’s house. So Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori create imagined company: the radio, embodied by a glimmering Motown-style trio of women, singing in immaculate harmony, a soulful moon (Angela Caesar) who floats above the stage, a bubbly washing machine (Me’sha Bryan) – as well as her hated tumble dryer. Tesori’s score is a rich, tumbling, complex thing: blues, church music, klezmer, opera and Motown sounds all cycle through it, get pushed to the front or provide a low hum in the background. At the heart of this commotion, Sharon D Clarke’s mesmerising performance as Caroline is the still point your eye’s always drawn to.
'The Snowman' is back for Christmas 2018. This review is from 2013. It may seem perverse to put the words 'snowman' and 'genius' into the same sentence, but the inspired range of delights in this dance adaptation of Raymond Briggs's book deserves no less an accolade. For a two year old the pleasure lies in everything from seeing a coconut, banana and a pineapple perform a limbo dance to the playful flicking on and off a light switch; for a five year old the fascination lurks in the conflict between Jack Frost and the irrepressibly jolly Father Christmas; while for the adults the enjoyment of the show will come from the beautifully performed dance routines and the orchestra's alternately lively and moving evocation of the iconic score. True, there are aspects of this traditional-as-mince-pies show that are starting to look a little dated: the mother and father scenes seem increasingly 1950s, and some of the attempts at humour creak as much as an obese Santa Claus climbing some wooden stairs. Yet the love and precision with which the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production is put together reinforces its deserved status as a classic, and at the point when the boy and the snowman take off to fly above the stage everyone (with, it must be confessed, the exception of my two-year-old son, who was busy pretending to receive an executive call on his fibre-optic torch) is enchanted.
The Old Vic’s take on Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ works so hard to win your affection that I suspect director Matthew Warchus would wait outside and hand you a puppy afterwards if he thought it would help you have a good night.It is the Coldplay of festive theatre: big, bombastic and happy, a little on the shallow side, but overwhelmingly winsome.An almost operatically full-tilt Rhys Ifans is great fun as literature’s most famous miser Ebenezer Scrooge, but he’s not always terribly well served by Jack Thorne’s adaptation, which often elevates Dickens’s literal words above his story. A festively-clad chorus is on hand to read out relatively obscure bits of the original novella verbatim. But that’s not the same thing as fleshing out the characters properly. The plot itself does rattle along at a breakneck pace, but in the opening section there is little evidence put forward for Scrooge’s unpleasantness; the impression is of a damaged man, not a nasty one. Considering that Dickens basically invented the modern tear-jerker with ‘A Christmas Carol’, this is not an especially emotionally engaging adaptation. There’s the sense that, in order to keep things fresh, Thorne and Warchus have been reluctant to fully indulge the sentimentality of a story that’s defined by it.Nonetheless, the booming Ifans pours in his heart and soul, and the rest of the ensemble is colourful and entertaining, particularly the brilliant young actor Erin Doherty, who injects some grounding naturalism as Sc