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London events in September

The best events, cultural happenings and great things to do in London in September 2020

By Alexandra Sims
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September in London isn’t just the damp end of summer. The sun is still out so there’s still time to enjoy Londons great outdoors, have a peep in the city's secret green spaces, and head on a scenic walk around the capital. Now that London is starting to reopen again, why not book a table at one of London’s reopened restaurants, or make the most of the last of the summer sun by heading up to a rooftop bar to sink a cocktail complete with a sun-soaked panorama.

Many of the events and things to do that would usually be taking place in September in London have been postponed and cancelled to ensure event-goer safety. But, London’s brilliant and ever-resourceful artists, performers, experts and craftspeople are still bringing the fun to you. Totally Thames Festival is still going ahead this year with an outdoor and digital programme, as is the BBC Proms with the Last Night of the Proms still being broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. London Design Festival will also go ahead with a few changes. If you’re still more comfortable staying in at the moment, there’s plenty of online theatre to watch, digital events to stream and restaurants and bars delivering to your door.

Whatever you do always check with the venue or event first before you visit to double-check what safety measures they have in place and if you have to pre-book in advance. Plus, always keep social distancing in mind. 

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

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar 

Our September 2020 highlights

The Great River Race
The Great River Race
Andres Arias Mesa

1. Totally Thames

Things to do

The Totally Thames festival is an annual celebration of London’s main watery artery and this year it’s putting on a programme of outdoor and digital events. Look out for festival highlight ‘Rivers of the World’ an exhibition of river-themed art installed outside the Tate Modern. Plus, there’ll be a new online hub with everything from streamed concerts to podcasts and more. 

2. London Design Festival

Things to do Festivals Various London locations, London

The London Design Festival returns in 2020 for its eighteenth year. The nine-day festival usually takes place over many different events and installations across the capital. You can expect things to look very different this year, but the fest will still be doing its best to bring remarkable design both old and new to a vast London audience. We’ll be updating you with more details as soon as they are announced.  

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3. Major parks in London

Things to do

Make the most of the last of the summer sun by exploring the parks and grassy spaces spread throughout the city. Check out this round-up of the best flower-packed places to unwind and soak up some rays. 

4. London’s prettiest walks

Things to do Walks and tours

While the days are still warm(ish), why not walk the city’s streets, canal paths, and parks to appreciate the beauty London has to offer. Take in the city’s immense skyline, sights that you never had time to vist before, and secluded green spaces. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, a nature lover or history buff, there’s something for everyone in our round-up of pretty city walks. 

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The 100 best bars and pubs in London - City Barge, Chiswick
The 100 best bars and pubs in London - City Barge, Chiswick
Photograph: City Barge

5. Our favourite London pubs

News Drinking

We’re all allowed back down the pub again. From our list of the best pubs in London, a number have announced they are now taking bookings for drink-ins. Check with each individual establishment and your own cherished local before you head along to find out what the deal is.

Cao Fei 'Nova' (2019) Video. Image courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space

6. Cao Fei: ‘Blueprints’

4 out of 5 stars
Art Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park

This large-scale solo exhibition by multimedia artist and filmmaker Cao Fei lets you step into a recreation of their Beijing studio. Stay for a stop-motion dystopia filled with giant rampaging turtles. 

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BBC Proms audience at the Royal Albert Hall
BBC Proms audience at the Royal Albert Hall
Photograph: Chris Christodoulou

7. BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

News Music

The Proms are still be going ahead this year, albeit in a very different form to the concerts we’ve known before. The organisers of the longest-running classical music concert series in the world, which turns 125 this year, have revealed plans for a new, digitised version of the Proms involving eight weeks of broadcasts across television, radio and online. And don’t pack away your Union Jack flags yet! The Last Night of the Proms is still going ahead (Sep 17) and will be broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. 

Photograph: The National Gallery
Photograph: The National Gallery
Photograph: The National Gallery

8. London’s biggest art galleries

News Art

The majority of London’s galleries are back in action in September. Some of the exhibitions that shuttered suddenly in March have returned and London’s major public galleries are open again with one-way systems and other social distancing measures in place. Go and check them out. 

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Barbican Conservatory
Barbican Conservatory
Photograph: Tan Zi Han/Shutterstock.com

9. The Barbican Conservatory

News City Life

Concealed inside all the Barbican Centre’s concrete, the Conservatory is a room overrun with 1,500 species of tropical plants and trees, exotic fish, tiny turtles and three indoor ponds. Pre-lockdown, the Conservatory was only open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays between noon and 5pm and bank holidays.  For the first time, the Conservatory is now open to the public on weekdays. 

Aubrey Beardsley 'The Kiss of Judas' (1893) Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum

10. Aubrey Beardsley

4 out of 5 stars
Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Aubrey Beardsley’s slinky black-and-white drawings are filled with sex and death. They also titillated and thrilled, and their existence beautifully disrupts what we think we know about the Victorians. This gorgeous retrospective covers pretty much everything Beardsley did, from early medievalist and mythological subjects through to illustrations for The Yellow Book (a quarterly arts publication) and explicit pictures of Ancient Greeks getting frisky. It’s audacious, bold, sexy and knowingly funny. 

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Paul Gauguin 'Portrait of a Young Woman, Vaïte (Jeanne) Goupil' (1896) © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

11. Gauguin and the Impressionists

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Denmark's Ordrupgaard Collection is the result of an art-loving nineteenth-century couple who were not afraid to splash the cash on a bit of French Impressionism, even before others got the memo describing its genius. The highlights of their collection, which runs from the pre-impressionism of Gustav Courbet all the way through to the post-impressionisn of Paul Gauguin, travel to London's Royal Academy. 

Andy Warhol 'Marilyn Diptych' (1962) Tate © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

12. Andy Warhol

3 out of 5 stars
Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Sometimes, when you stand in front of a painting, it’s like being in the presence of a celebrity. This show is full of those celebrities. Stacks of soup cans, piles of boxes of Brillo pads, dozens of Marilyns, repeated Elvises. You already know these works by Andy Warhol: you can’t not, they’re inescapable. This show is half mega-hits from art history, half intimate, personal, confidential look at his life. Warhol becomes not just some art myth, but something way more relatable: a human.

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Titian 'Rape of Europa' (1562) © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

13. ‘Titian: Love, Desire, Death’

5 out of 5 stars
Art National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

The Renaissance master’s works are reunited in full here for the first time since the 1500s. The seven huge paintings here tell stories from Greek myth – ‘Diana and Actaeon’, ‘Venus and Adonis’, ‘The Rape of Europa’ – with heaving passion and lyrical intensity. Walking into that room and being totally surrounded by those paintings is totally magical. It’s taken 500 years for these pictures to be reunited, but it’s been more than worth the wait.

Introductions: Early Embodiment from A Countervailing Theory, (2019) © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

14. Toyin Ojih Odutola: ‘A Countervailing Theory’

Art Barbican Centre, Barbican

Drawing, for Toyin Ojih Odutola, is a form of storytelling. These new works, exhibited around the 90-metre sweep of the Barbican Curve, form part of an epic series relaying an imagined ancient myth. The artist uses pencil, pastel, ballpoint pen and charcoal to create the mega-sized portraits that are as delicate as they are beautiful. 

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padella
padella
Photograph: Padella

15. The best restaurants

News Eating

Dining out in London might look quite different, but if you’re anything like us lot at Time Out, you’re absolutely buzzing for your next meal out. Whether it’s returning to an old, local favourite to show your support in tough times or finally checking out one of central London’s hot new openings from before All This, the good news is you can now book a table at a select number of awesome restaurants. 

Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Photograph: Bussey Rooftop Bar

16. London’s best rooftop bars

Bars and pubs

Londoners love a rooftop bar. They’re the best places to escape the claustrophobic heat of the city and they provide a brilliant skyline backdrop for drinking – especially at sundown. And now, we love them even more. Outdoor spaces have been deemed the safest for socialising as London unlocks this summer. Here are the sky-high bars taking bookings this summer.

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Johan Persson
Johan Persson
Photograph: Johan Persson

17. Theatre shows to stream online

Theatre Drama

Theatres and theatre companies the world over are opening up their digital archives: right now you can probably see more theatre shows – plus dance and opera – from your living room than you could watch in a year by going out and about in London. From paid-for streaming platforms to YouTube streams to one-offs on other platforms, there’s a huge amount of stuff to see. Here’s what’s available. 

Live streaming
Live streaming
Photograph: Shutterstock

18. London events you can stream online

Things to do

London has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with big institutions and independent venues closing and events being postponed and cancelled to ensure event-goer safety. But, London’s brilliant and ever-resourceful artists, performers, experts and craftspeople are now bringing the fun to you. We’ve picked the very best events that will be streaming into your homes over the coming days.

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Best London restaurants for home delivery
Best London restaurants for home delivery
Time Out/Shutterstock

19. Top London restaurants doing home delivery

Restaurants

If you still feel safer dining at home right now, many of London’s restaurants are doing home delivery. From Italian to Chinese, here’s our pick, if you fancy eating in style while self-isolating – just remember that details change all the time, so always check with the venues’ websites and social channels for the latest info. 

Nightjar bottled cocktails
Nightjar bottled cocktails
Photograph: Nightjar

20. London bars delivering cocktails

Bars and pubs

London’s bars have found a new way to keep the drinks a-flowing, lots of London’s best bars are now doing free delivery around the city, bringing tins or bottles of cocktails (and the party) to yours. So you can still get your Negroni, Martini or Old Fashioned fix while staying safe at home. Here’s who’s doing what and how to place an order.

Find out what's happening in October
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