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London events in November

Your comprehensive guide to the best events, pop-ups and things to do in London this November

By Things To Do Editors, Alexandra Sims and Rosie Hewitson
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Little did we know at the beginning of the year that life still wouldn’t be back to normal, but here we are. And despite our new normal surroundings, November in London is still brimming with plenty of events and things to do. See out the beginning of winter in some of the capital's best pubsBonfire Night may be basically cancelled this year, but November in London is also the month of when the festive season really starts to get going. Hyde Park’s beloved Winter Wonderland may not be taking place this year, but the equally wonderful festive classic Christmas at Kew is still going ahead as are the annual city-wide Christmas lights and festive markets

Here’s your guide to the best events and things to do, online and off, in November in London 2020. 

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar. 

Our November 2020 highlights

Christmas at Kew 2017
Christmas at Kew 2017
Photograph: Kew

Christmas at Kew

News City Life

Kew Gardens’ Christmas trail is the flashing neon light at the end of the long, dark tunnel we call 2020. It’s been confirmed that the mega-popular (ie, book in good time) illuminated path through the darkened gardens will be returning this November. The new Christmas trail at Kew gives visitors a chance to see the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens under twinkling illuminations and the ever-so-comforting glow of Christmas neon.

 

EFG London Jazz Festival
EFG London Jazz Festival
Photograph: Tatiana Gorilovsky

EFG London Jazz Festival

News Music

Skronking saxes, busy hi-hats, walking basslines and, yes, even a bit of scat singing: jazz truly has it all. And to our delight, this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival is a goer! With a mixture of performances streaming digitally and honest-to-God live gigs, it’ll feature more than 100 shows across the ten days. Look out for Time Out-approved luminaries like Shabaka Hutchings, Cleveland Watkiss, Jason Yarde and Gaika. Bebop, post-bop, hard bops. All the bops!

 

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Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum
Photograph: Courtesy of the Natural History Museum

Ice skating in London

Things to do Ice skating

Don’t listen to the hearsay. Christmas is not cancelled. There will still be Christmas lights, there will still be seasonal music played two months too early, and there will be skating, damn it, even if it’s on a sparsely populated, socially distanced rink. Whether you can pirouette like Torvill and Dean or just slip around like Bambi, there’s a rink for everyone. Skaters gonna skate! 

Pergola transformed into Miracle on Kingdom Street
Pergola transformed into Miracle on Kingdom Street
Photograph: Pergola

Pergola: ‘Miracle on Kingdom Street’

News Events & Festivals

The team behind Paddington hangout Pergola is transforming its pretty outdoor space into a winter wonderland in time for the festive period complete with a grand Alpine hall decorated with a forest of 200 fir trees and eight cosy lodges. Hot toddies – from mulled wine to boozy hot chocolate – will be available and four pop-up restaurants will serve dishes inspired by the Alps. You bet that means fondue!

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Overflow, Sadler’s Wells 2020
Overflow, Sadler’s Wells 2020
Photograph: Johan Persson

Sadler’s Wells: ‘Social DisDancing’

News Theatre & Performance

London’s home of dance is back in action with a brand-new, socially distanced season of dance. The main attraction is ‘An Evening with English National Ballet’ (November 19 to 21), which consists of five new works from Arielle Smith, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Yuri Possokhov and Stina Quagebeur. Next up, Alexander Whitley’s high-tech show ‘Overflow’, which runs November 27 and 28.

 

chemical brothers, design museum electronic exhibition
chemical brothers, design museum electronic exhibition
Photograph: Luke Dyson

‘Electronic: Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers’

News Events & Festivals

With this expansive exhibition charting the history of electronic dance music, The Design Museum has accidentally produced the most prescient show for lockdown times. In parts, it’s a tribute to ravers who turned face masks into fashion, at a time when every visitor will (hopefully) be wearing one.  

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miracle pop-up at the henrietta hotel
miracle pop-up at the henrietta hotel
Photograph: Addie Chinn

Miracle

News Drinking

If Christmas for you is all about the tinsel, you should probably pay Miracle a visit. The very visual pop-up bar is back for thr third year at Covent Garden’s Henrietta Hotel full of gaudy decorations inspired by a retro, ’70s Christmas at home. The drinks, as usual, will be as big a talking point, with cocktails to fit the theme, designed by Experimental Cocktail Club – including a mulled-wine-heavy Bad Santa and drinks loaded with winter spices, like the Fruit-Cake Flip.

@TheDriveIn
@TheDriveIn
Photograph: @TheDriveIn

@TheDriveIn: Christmas cinema

News Film

Thought drive-in cinema was a warm-weather-only deal? Think again. @TheDriveIn is sticking some tinsel on this summer’s screening phenomenon and reinventing it for the chillier months. Expect all the Christmas favourites like ‘Love Actually’, ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

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War Horse
War Horse
Photograph: National Theatre

National Theatre’s ‘War Horse’

News Film

Vue Cinemas is bringing the National Theatre’s glorious equestrian masterpiece ‘War Horse’ back in cinematic form for six weeks from November 11, Remembrance Day. Adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, the theatrical production follows Albert Narracott and his beloved horse Joey from Devon to the Western Front of World War I. The story is a compelling tale of a boy and his horse but it’s the staggering puppeteering that gave the play its name. Check the National Theatre site to find out which cinemas are screening it near you.

Christmas lights in London

Things to do

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. 

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Christmas markets and fairs

Shopping Markets and fairs

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.

george michael
george michael
Dawn Mellor's Studies of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley (1984-85) Courtesy of the artist

Brent Biennial

News Art

We’ve got Venice, São Paulo and Berlin, and now Brent is throwing a biennale to mark its year as London Borough of Culture. Twenty-three projects will fill unusual spaces like barbers, laundrettes, libraries and billboards across the borough for the occasion, including a nine-metre-high mural by British artist Dawn Mellor of Brent-born George Michael. Wham!

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hot house for london design festival
hot house for london design festival
Photograph: Studio Weave

‘The Hothouse’ 

News Events & Festivals

Back in the 1930s, the Lea Valley corridor had the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. Playing on that nugget of horticultural history, design company Studio Weave has decided to grow real crops like oranges, quinoa and pomegranate inside a big glasshouse installation in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It’s not some pretty take-your-granny garden centre, though; it’s meant to be a comment on climate change. At the rate the world’s temperature is increasing, all the exotic fruits in The Hothouse could be grown in the UK by 2050. Suddenly that guava isn’t looking so tasty.

t est pattern [nº12]site-specific installation, 2017© Ryoji Ikeda. courtesy of The Vinyl Factory
t est pattern [nº12]site-specific installation, 2017© Ryoji Ikeda. courtesy of The Vinyl Factory
test pattern [nº12]site-specific installation, 2017© Ryoji Ikeda. courtesy of The Vinyl Factory

Ryoji Ikeda’s new ultra-immersive exhibition

News Art

In 2014, Ryoji Ikeda sent a beam of light piercing up through the sky. ‘Spectra’ dominated the London skyline with a huge shaft of blinding white. Now, he’s bringing his technological immersive wonders indoors for his biggest ever European exhibition at 180 The Strand, a gorgeous brutalist building that’s perfect for the mind-bending installations he’s known for.

Among the works on show, visitors will get to experience an installation that’s meant to mimic the feeling of entering a black hole, a tunnel of strobe lighting, giant speaker sculptures and a new version of that amazing ‘Test Pattern’ piece. Sure, it might give you motion sickness or trigger your epilepsy, but that’s a small price to pay for art. 

Ryoji Ikeda (presented by The Vinyl Factory x Fact in collaboration with Audemars Piguet Contemporary) will be at 180 The Strand, Nov 12-Feb 28 2021. Tickets will be available here.

Can’t wait? Here are the best shows you can see in London right now.

Find out what's happening in December
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