October in London means the arrival of autumn, but don't hibernate indoors – there's way too much going on for that. Take a long, or short, walk that ends with Sunday lunch at one of London's best pubs with a fire, or for something altogether spookier, there's Halloween to look forward to, which means parties and fancy dress galore. Summer might be over, but October is packed with new openings , so get stuck in to our list of the best events and happenings throughout the month.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our October event highlights
If you're going to celebrate Halloween (Saturday October 31 2015) this year, we suggest you go all out. Head down to your local costume shop and prepare to scare at one of the capital's best Halloween parties. Plan your fancy dress in advance, however – a pink bunny suit just won't cut it at this time of year.
If the mention of a museum visit makes you think of stuffy exhibitions and school trips, think again. ‘Museums at Night’ usually takes place across the UK in October, with a series of seriously special after-hours events at some of London’s best galleries, museums and attractions.
The film world continues its love affair with werewolves, vampires and all things 'Twilight'. But theatre types have always known witches are where it's at. After its 2006 opening at Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre with an international crowd of voracious consumers (glass of champagne and a choccy for £16 anyone?). But this stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance from its current leading lady Rachel Tucker, as the intense green-skinned undergrad who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. 'Wicked' is a spectacle that rises or falls around its central performance. In the midst of a gigantic production full of bangs, bells and whistles Tucker, with her small frame and searing vocal ability, simply flies off with the show. She's closely followed by Gina Beck, who plays good girl, Glinda. Glinda and Elphaba's relationship forms the heart of this story and, as the Good Witch, Beck is a consummate clown, playing up the silliness of her character at every turn. But she can raise a tear, too, and her final duet with Tucker, 'For Good', is genuinely heart-rending. The Tim Burton-inspired ensemble oscillate between the hypnotic and grotesque and a sweet but thin voiced Matt Willis charms as the rather superfluous Prince. As in classical ballet, this is all about the women and, even by previous lead Idina Menzel's standards, they are in soaring form here. T
It's been decades since this skillful adaptation of Susan Hill's 1983 Gothic horror story first started setting West End audience a-shiver. 'The Woman in Black' remains perennially popular – particularly, it seems, with generally hard-to-please teenagers – which is testament to its rough-theatre appeal and the extraordinary and enduring potency, not of guts, gore or special effects, but of simple suggestion. Ageing Arthur Kipps is haunted by sinister events that befell him 30 years earlier. In an effort to exorcise his demons, he hires an actor to help him tell his story for an invited audience. As they rehearse, though, their staging itself becomes prey to supernatural visitations from the titular hatchet-faced, whip-thin, funereally garbed woman. Stephen Mallatratt's dramatisation and a deft production by Robin Herford exploit the peculiarly spooky atmosphere of an empty theatre, making us, as an audience, feel almost like spectral voyeurs. And the chills are irresistibly effective: swirling fog, a creaking rocking chair, a locked door, a pale visage looming out of the gloom. Only occasionally does the staging show its age. The projected image of the gaunt, sinister house of Kipps' tormented memory looks hopelessly cheap and crude, and a graveyard conjured with dust sheets struggles to convince, even within the low-tech aesthetic parameters of the piece. Yet the shrieks and gasps that greet the performance demonstrate that, even in the twenty-first century, this doughty
Tina Turner has gone from R&B singer to 'Mad Max' movie star to living legend, in an eclectic career that's spanned over half a century. Now, her life's being turned into a musical that's written by leading playwright Katori Hall ('The Mountaintop') and directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who's worked on topnotch Shakespeare adaptations as well as international mega-hit 'Mamma Mia!'. And since Carole King musical 'Beautiful' left the West End, there's definitely room for a new female-fronted pop musical in town. 'Tina' should be a rather grittier affair, starting with Turner's beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee and following her through a miserable marriage to her triumphant '80s career comeback. Although since the lady herself is involved in its creation, 'Tina' won't exactly be a warts-and-all exposé. Broadway performer Adrienne Warren will play the lead.
Eternal pessimists – and proud of it – the Feeling Gloomy crew spin a regular soundtrack of gloom-tinted (but still hugely enjoyable) pop. Think Blondie to Bowie, Abba to The Clash, The Smiths to the Scissor Sisters, Bonnie Tyler to Joy Division. Get ready to do some whistful sighing and then jump on the dancefloor when you realise no-one's watching you anyway. Such is the popularity of this brilliant night that it's even hopped across the pond to New York. Oh, and attracted a ton of alt royalty celebs over the years - Jarvis Cocker, Michael Fassbender, Adam Buxton, Olivia Coleman, Daniel Kitson... There are many, which should go some way to demonstrating how much fun you'll have here.
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.
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.
London is the birthplace of the Six Day Series, so it’s a pretty big deal when it comes back each year. Over the six days cyclists from all over the world come to compete on a track in various races, the most quintessential being the ‘Madison’. During this cyclists ride in teams of two, relay style, to see who can rack up the most laps and take the title. The first six-day race took place in 1878 in Islington in a hall that once stood where the current Business Design Centre is. Nowadays it’s held in the purpose-built Lee Valley VeloPark in the Olympic Park and there are DJs and light shows to help create a lively, party atmosphere.