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Ten ways to make the most of darker nights in London

The clocks are going back, so it’s time to plan some after-dark entertainment. These ten events are guaranteed to brighten up even the coldest of London nights

Enjoy rooftop fairy tales and ales at the Queen of Hoxton
© Graham Turner

Enjoy rooftop fairy tales and ales at the Queen of Hoxton

Fancy a pow-wow round an electric heater on a cold dark night? Perhaps not. But chuck in a wigwam, some cosy cocktails and heaps of warming grub, and you’ve got yourself an entirely different proposition. Returning to the Queen of Hoxton’s roof for another winter season, the famed wigwam will this year take on a fairytale theme, courtesy of festival events company Mad Ferret. There’ll be a bar made from gingerbread and a variety of immersive events inspired by the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Put another way, it’s Grimm up top.

Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX

Light up your night: With one of the wigwam’s signature cocktails such as The Golden Apple, a hot gingerbread-and-apple toddy.

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Visit star-spangled gardens at Kew Gardens
© Kit Fanner

Visit star-spangled gardens at Kew Gardens

Kew Garden’s famous illuminated Winter Trail is a mile-long path that winds around the impressive botanical gardens, sparkling all the way with enough Christmas lights to short-circuit Lapland. You’ll find glittering fountains, a choir of tinkling holly bushes, a tunnel of lights, a scented fire garden and the usual gathering of seasonal food and drink. Is it too early in the season for mince pies and mulled wine? No, and don’t ask any more stupid questions.

Kew Gardens, TW9 3AB

Light up your night: If one set of illuminated gardens isn’t enough, travel a little further south to the otherworldly Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park

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Kew Gardens , Kew Wednesday November 22 2017 - Monday January 1 2018
Watch curious adventures in theatreland
© Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Watch curious adventures in theatreland

The nights might be getting darker but the theatre is getting much, much brighter. ‘wonder.land’ is a new musical take on ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that swaps Lewis Carroll’s trippy subterranean land for a psychedelic online world, where troubled teen Aly takes refuge among the warped avatars of other users – the Dodo, the Mock Turtle and so on. Directed by Rufus Norris, new artistic director at the National Theatre, from a script by Moira Buffini and with a score by Damon Albarn, it’s shaping up to be one hell of a show.

National Theatre, South Bank, SE1 9PX

Light up your night: With some top-notch craft beer from the NT’s excellent riverside bar, Understudy.

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Until Sat Apr 30
Meet oddballs and crazy callers at Rebel Bingo

Meet oddballs and crazy callers at Rebel Bingo

Rabble-rousing upstarts Rebel Bingo are the scourge of the traditional bingo community… or so they (and we) thought. After several years of hostility from the old guard, industry giant Mecca has invited them to host a series of events at its Camden venue – the first time that this wild, drunken, party-led approach to the numbers game will have been held in an official bingo hall. As Rebel Bingo’s new promo video puts it: ‘Goliath has opened the door to David.’

Mecca Bingo, 180 Arlington Rd, NW1 7HL and Clapham Grand, 21-25 St John’s Hill, SW11 1TT. Nov 13, Dec 18.

Light up your night: 
Carry on the party at legendary late-night Britpop haunt The Good Mixer, just round the corner from Camden Mecca.

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29 Jul 2016
Play Tudor spy games at Nightwatchers

Play Tudor spy games at Nightwatchers

Stop whingeing about the shorter days – if it wasn’t getting dark earlier, we wouldn’t be able to wander around the Tower of London at night in an immersive digital theatre piece called ‘Nightwatchers’. WTF is ‘immersive digital theatre’? you ask. Well, it basically means you’ll have to navigate your way around the Tower, led by text messages and phone calls, through a narrative of shadowy state surveillance and crafty Elizabethan espionage. Not so down on the shorter days now, are we?

Tower of London, Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB

Light up your night: With dinner and a stroll around nearby St Katharine Docks.

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Until Sat Feb 20
Eat winter-warming street treats

Eat winter-warming street treats

As any hibernating bear will tell you, the best way to prepare for winter is by putting on a few extra pounds. And who better to facilitate some guilt-free gluttony than the cornucopia of traders at Street Feast? The premier proponent of stall-based grub will be retreating indoors at Hawker House (a new site in Canada Water) this year but still braving the elements in Shoreditch Yard with its Dinerama events. A few trips here and you’ll be snoozing snugly all the way to spring.

Hawker House, Canada St, SE16 2XU and Dinerama, Shoreditch Yard, 19 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3EJ

Light up your night: With an £8 spin on the Whisky Bar roulette –  you could end up sipping a wee vintage dram for a wee vintage price.

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Until Sun Apr 2
Run (and learn) about town with Love London Running Tours
© Raphaël Chekroun

Run (and learn) about town with Love London Running Tours

Fancy looking at some famous buildings while you’re dripping with sweat? Or listening to a tour guide when you’re trying to catch your breath? That’s the gist of Love London Running Tours, which combine guided tours of the city with organised runs. As combos go, it’s an odd one, but that’s what we love about it. Especially as they’re now introducing night runs. Trust us: you haven’t seen London until you’ve seen it at night, with a stitch.

Love London City Run starts and finishes at Aldersgate St, EC1A 4JP. www.lovelondonrunningtours.london  

Light up your night: With a visit to the Barbican’s exhibition about pioneering designers Charles and Ray Eames (probably best appreciated before the run).

Have after-dark museum larks at Museums at Night
© Barts Pathology Museum

Have after-dark museum larks at Museums at Night

Spent all summer falling over in parks while singlehandedly propping up the prosecco trade? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But now it’s time for some culture. Many of London’s best museums will be staying open late over the Halloween weekend, putting on a range of special events and allowing visitors to creep around their exhibits after dark. The Museums at Night Festival will include gin-tasting at the London Transport Museum, a candlelit tour of the National Maritime Museum and a dumb supper – that’s a silent meal, served backwards, with dessert first – at Barts Pathology Museum. Yeah, we don’t get that one either.

Various London venues, Fri Oct 30 and Sat Oct 31

Light up your night: Enjoy an atmospheric screening of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 

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By: Time Out London Things To Do
Explore a Little Tokyo story at Tokyo Nights
© Fumie Suzuki

Explore a Little Tokyo story at Tokyo Nights

Tokyo Nights is a new street-food event from the Night Tales team, set to bring a mouthwatering medley of sizzling Japanese flavours to Shoreditch for the winter months. Various elements of Tokyo food culture – from bustling markets to top restaurants and cocktail bars – have inspired the event, which will also include four concept bars… where you may well strike up a tender friendship with a washed-up old actor (if you look like Scarlett Johansson).

288-299 Old Street, EC2A

Light up your night: By booking a private ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) for you and your mates – up to nine people – and indulging in a variety of fancy food and drink bolt-ons.

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Until Sat Dec 19
Discover a rave new world at The Old Queen's Head

Discover a rave new world at The Old Queen's Head

‘Gotta get up, gotta feel good, gotta get up, gotta feel good, woh-ho-oh-ho-oh…’ You know the rest. And that’s precisely why you should be digging out those white gloves and belting out a dance anthem of your choice at The Old Queen’s Head’s brilliant Rave Karaoke night. Returning after a stellar debut in June and a slew of festival appearances, this night is quite possibly the most failsafe antidote to autumnal blues. Seriously, if glowsticks and N-Trance don’t cheer you up, there’s no hope for you.

The Old Queen’s Head, 44 Essex Rd, N1 8LN

Light up your night: With glowsticks (duh!). Grab some free ones on the night or buy your own from a fishing tackle shop like in the old days. No? Just us? Okay…

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Until Fri Dec 4

Warm up with these things to do in November

London events in November

Embrace all things autumnal in the capital and get stuck into November's offering of things to do to brighten up even the coldest of days.

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By: Phoebe Trimingham