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London events in October

Your guide to the best stuff to do, see, eat and drink across London during October

Richmond Park
Photograph: Charlie Pinder
By Time Out London Things To Do, Alexandra Sims and Angela Hui |

Don’t hibernate indoors, October in London means autumn is here and full of fun things to do. Get outdoors and see London’s trees change colour on a city walk and follow it up with a tasty Sunday lunch at one of London’s cosiest pubs with a fire. If you’re up for a fright, there’s Halloween to look forward to, which means Halloween parties and fancy dress. Or, scare yourself silly with our guide to spooky London. October in London is also the time of the London Film Festival, London Literary FestivalLondon Restaurant Festival, London Cocktail WeekFrieze London, Africa on the Square and the city’s Diwali celebrations. While for sports fanatics the month holds the Six Day London and NFL London Games. October is packed with new openings, so get a load of our guide best events, things to do and cultural happenings throughout October 2020.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

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Our October event highlights 2020

Theatre, Drama

‘The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage’

Bridge Theatre, Tower Bridge

One of Nicholas Hytner’s first big successes at the National Theatre was directing an epic stage adaptation of Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’. And now: hooray! Seventeen years later he’s moved on to the (still incomplete) follow up trilogy ‘The Book of Dust’ at his new gaff the Bridge. 

Things to do, Festivals

Oktoberfest in London

London is not the kind of city that turns down a party. So, we're giving Oktoberfest one big, warm wilkommen with plenty of big frothing Steins of beer, platters of Wurst, fetching leiderhosen getups and oompah bands playing the trumpet like they don't give a schnitzel.

Halloween costumes in London: Chucky
All images shot in The London Bridge Experience & Tombs, photo Rob Greig
Things to do

Halloween in London

When the days are a-darkenin’, we’ve started walking face-first into spider webs again and the shops are expecting an imminent order of pumpkin-related merchandise, it can only mean one thing: Halloween, Thursday October 31 2019, is almost upon us. Dust off your witch’s hat, rinse those vampire fangs and start honing your prosthetic-application skills, as this year London’s got one hell of a party line up. If you’re not big on the Halloween scene, make sure you at least squeeze in a good firework display, or find some other way to enjoy this magnificent season in London. We’ll be updating this page with events for Halloween 2019 as soon as they’re announced. 

Marina Abramović ‘Artist Portrait with a Candle (C)’, from the series 'Places of Power' (2013) Brazil. Image courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives © Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović: ‘After Life’

Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Everyone’s favourite performance artist, Marina Abramovć, will return to London with a major exhibition at the Royal Academy spanning her iconic career. More than 50 works are going to be on display, including some brand new ones, including the one everyone’s talking about, ‘Imponderabilia’. 

Pretty Woman: The Musical, Broadway
© Matthew Murphy
Theatre, Musicals

‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’

Piccadilly Theatre, Soho

Every hit romcom is destined to become a musical and the inevitable has now happened. Bryan Adams (yes, that Bryan Adams) and Jim Vallance’s take on Julia Roberts’s breakthrough hit received mixed reviews when it premiered on Broadway last year, but it lasted for a respectable enough year. 

Canaletto 'Regatta on the Grand Canal'. From the Woburn Abbey Collection

Woburn Treasures

The Queen's House, Greenwich

While Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire gets a spruce-up, the art collection of the Duke and Duchess of Bedfordshire relocates to The Queen's House in Greenwich. Visitors to the free exhibition will be able to see artworks by Van Dyck, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Poussin, Canaletto and more. 

Jean Dubuffet 'Paysage aux argus (Landscape with Argus)' (1955) © Fondation Dubuffet, Paris / DACS, London, 2019. Image courtesy of Fondation Dubuffet, Paris
Art, Painting

Jean Dubuffet

Barbican Centre, Barbican

There'll be plenty to feast your eyes on in this ambitious retrospective of the radical French artist's painting. 

Theatre, Drama

‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’

Bridge Theatre, Tower Bridge

The Bridge will be transformed into a 1930s dancehall for Marianne Elliott and Steven Hoggett’s new stage adaptation of Horace McCoy’s 1935 classic novel that follows a Great Depression-era dance competition. 

Auguste Rodin 'Study for The Thinker' (1881) Musée Rodin, S.01168


Tate Modern, Bankside

This major exhibition at Tate Modern will be showing just how radical Rodin was. In a sort-of ‘behind the scenes’ approach, the show draws attention to the artist’s use of clay and plaster in producing his best-known marble and bronze creations. 

'The Drifters Girl' comes to Garrick Theatre in October 2020
Photograph: Mark Allan
Theatre, Musicals

‘The Drifters Girl’

Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road

Beverley Knight is back in the West End and she's found an unlikely vehicle for her talents; a new musical about all-male singing group The Drifters. 'The Drifters Girl' centres on the woman behind the band, Faye Treadwell, who was the first African-American female manager and who helped propel the group to stardom over three decades. 

Imelda Staunton
Photograph: Courtesy of Storyhouse PR
Theatre, Musicals

‘Hello Dolly’

Adelphi Theatre, Strand

Director Dominic Cooke and stellar actress Imelda Staunton reuniting for this classic musical. It's got music and lyrics by Jerry Herman (‘La Cage aux Folles’) including the wonderful title number, plus 'Put on Your Sunday Clothes' and 'Before the Parade Passes By'. 

JMW Turner 'Rain, Steam and Speed - the Great Western Railway' exhibited 1844 The National Gallery, London © The National Gallery, London

‘Turner’s Modern World’

Tate Britain, Millbank

J.M.W. Turner is now one of the most famous and well-established painters to have ever come out of Britain. Which can make it hard to appreciate just what a radical he was during his lifetime. Turner was fascinated by the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution, as captured in the glorious ‘Rail, Steam and Speed’. And - guess what? - you can see it irl in this show!

Find out what's happening in November


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