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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
‘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…
Warm up with these things to do in November
The Westbridge Hotel Restaurant
This informal dining room doubles as the restaurant for the boutique Westbridge Hotel - a prime example of all the regeneration Stratford enjoyed in the lead up to the 2012 Olympic Games. It's just down the road from the Olympic Park, and close to Stratford High Street station, too. The a la carte ranges from fried baby calamari with tartar sauce and baked camembert with onion chutney and toast to teriyaki chicken skewers with lemongrass rice, roasted quail with garlic mash and spinach, and sirloin steak cooked on the grill and served with French fries and pan-fried courgettes in gremolata sauce. Burgers also feature, including one made with wagyu beef. A lighter lunch menu includes panini and wraps, soups, salads, omelettes, burgers and mains such as fish and chips, wild mushroom risotto and meatballs with spaghetti and a tomato sauce.
Venue says: “All day, every day - two courses for £12.50.”