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Things to do in London this week

Discover the biggest and best things to do in London over the next seven days

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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Yes, the temperature might be dropping. Yes, the city might be running a little low on petrol. And sure, you’ll probably not manage to get an Uber instead. But that’s no excuse to stay indoors this week. Because despite all that, there’s a hell of a lot of cracking stuff happening in London over the next seven days. 

When it comes to art happenings, you’re spoilt for choice this week, with not one but two massive art fairs in town. Frieze London returns to Regent’s Park with a five day showcase from leading contemporary galleries and artists, while the Other Art Fair offer loads of art at far more affordable prices for burgeoning collectors. 

And they’re not the only big cultural events happening this week. There’s also City Lit’s Mental Wealth Festival, a week-long programme of activities centred around mental wellbeing. Or you could make like the Bloomsbury Set and head to WC1 to soak up some culture at the Bloomsbury Festival, a jam-packed programme of talks, tours, drop-in sessions and installations around the area. 

If big name theatre is what you’re after, head to the Royal Court to catch Caryl Churchill’s zippy new short play ‘What If If Only’, or grab a ticket to ‘The Mirror and the Light’, the final part of the stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy, which packs a whole lot in to its two and a half hour run time. 

And that’s not all by a long stretch. This might be the most jam-packed week of fun London has seen in a long while. So get out there and enjoy it!

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in London every week of the year

  • Things to do
  • Literary events
  • South Bank

Been missing your friends over the last year? You’re not alone. London Literature Festival is back IRL this October following last year’s live-streamed version, with a ten-day festival of talks, performances and special events themed around friendship. Literary stars of every flavour will chat about what friendship means to them at special talks and panel events, which this week include a discussion between rising stars Caleb Azumah Nelson, Vanessa Onwuemezi and Naomi Ishiguro (daughter of Kazuo) and ‘Queenie’ author Candice Carty-Williams sitting down with journalist Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff to talk about her new YA novel ‘Empress & Aniya’. And after the success of the Southbank Centre’s recent digital season, many of the festival’s events will be able to be viewed via livestreams as well as in-person: check the website for full info. 

  • Things to do

The nights are getting darker, London is being overrun with massive spiders, and your Big Supermarket has started flogging those cute little mini pumpkins again. You know what that means: Halloween is almost here! Last year’s festivities were pretty pared-back (you don’t need us to explain why) so London is going bigger and scarier than ever this autumn, with plenty of spooky activities to get stuck into from this week. Don your vampire fangs, get that fake blood a-flowing and head to one of these spooktastic tours, screenings, dinners, talks or creepy happenings across London. 

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  • Art
  • Bankside

The Tate Modern Turbine Hall has been invaded by a flying squadron of alien machines. Powered by mini rotors, they float through the vast space, rising and falling on invisible currents, governed by complex algorithms that dictate their flightpaths. are Anicka Yi’s robo-army, sent from the future to make us consider what it would be like to share our world with machine intelligence. Quite nice, it turns out. Yi’s ideas are good, they’re utopian, idealistic, they make you think about your relationship to technology and nature. And these particular robots are nice and friendly. 

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • South Kensington

A much-loved staple of London’s festive calendar returns this week – but it’ll be your last time to enjoy its icy charms. The ice rink at the Natural History Museum will take up residence at the South Kensington venue for a final season this year before it gets transformed into a new urban garden. Get your skates on to cram in as many sessions as possible this winter before our icy friend and its twinkling Christmas tree departs us forever. 

Find more places to go ice skating in London.

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  • Things to do
  • Film events
  • London

No prizes for guessing what the London East Asia Film Festival does: it brings great films from across East Asia to London. The diverse programme includes an incredible variety of contemporary cinema from the Far East, returning this year for its sixth edition. It will showcase two international, five London, six European and 19 UK premieres, with features from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. 

 

 

  • Things to do
  • Consumer shows and conventions
  • Royal Docks

With dealer stalls, special guests, plenty of manga, games and cosplay there’s heaps to get excited about at this year’s edition of the UK’s biggest modern pop culture convention. Tom Hiddleston aka Loki from the Marvel movies will be at MCM London to meet and greet fans for one-to-one photos and autographs while kids can run wild in the Treehouse area, where there'll be creative workshops, Quidditch demos and silver sabre training. There's also a retro gaming area and of course the Cosplay Showcase catwalk at Cosplay Central, where you can dress up as your fave face from movies and graphic novels. Nerds assemble!

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Brick Lane

Pint-sized Brick Lane bar and bottle shop Kill the Cat is celebrating its fifth birthday (or 37th in cat years) with another edition of the World’s Smallest Beer Festival. On top of the 150+ bottles in stock, they’ll be pouring fresh pints from a killer tap list, while neighbouring Chinese bakery Ong Ong will be serving up yummy bao buns to soak up all those 9% ABV porters and a DJ will be spinning tunes if you fancy a very contained shuffle about the diminutive venue. Tickets guarantee you access to the party, and come with loads of goodies, including a can of their recently launched house pale ale ‘Fluffy’. Sounds purrfect.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Covent Garden

Around 35,000 people attend this massive annual celebration of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of light in Trafalgar Square. It features loads of live music and dance, a bunch of delicious vegetarian food stalls and storytelling at the National Gallery. There’ll also be plenty of creative activities to get stuck into, including a cookery demonstration from two Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, henna drawing and a massive community display of rangoli art (those colourful floor patterns made using dyed sand and rice flower.) Insert sounds lit joke in here. 

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  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Battersea

Good art doesn’t have to cost more than a mortgage. At least not at the Affordable Art Fair. With a broad range of painting, photography, sculpture and prints from over 100 local and international galleries, you can browse cheap(er) and cheerful artwork to your heart's content. This year includes a new immersive installation, Fluid Form, exploring the transformative power of water, and a special showcase spotlighting the standout artists from the UK’s top art schools this year.

Frank Herbert’s book finally gets the adaptation it deserves thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s serious-minded but thrilling sci-fi. Yes, the sandworms are awesome. But these subterranean nightmares that lurk beneath the surface of the vast desert planet of Arakkis are just one element of this big, thinky blockbuster to seriously exceed expectations. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has nailed this adaptation where David LynchAlejandro Jodorowksy and Ridley Scott all floundered. His Dune is sprawling, spectacular and politically resonant in its critique of colonialism and exploitation, with precise storytelling, visual fireworks and some god-level world-building. 

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  • Things to do
  • Concerts
  • Barbican

Electronic and jazz group Speakers Corner Quartet cut their musical teeth as house band at the legendary open-mic Brixton club night with the same name. The four-piece haven’t played together as a live unit for nearly a decade, so this show is quite a big deal, not least because of the star-studded squadron of talented friends that are joining them, including Kae Tempest, Sampha, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Coby Sey, Joe Armon-Jones, Lafawndah, Tawiah, James Massiah, Léa Sen, Wu-Lu, Confucius MC, Leyla, Trustfall and Hinako Omori. Phew. Yes, this unmissable gig is unsurprisingly sold out. But great news: you can stream it too! Check out how to do so here.

  • Things to do
  • Film events
  • Borough

Eat, drink and be terrified this spooky season at BAO (or should that be BOO?) The cult bun house is dishing out a fun collaboration with independent cinema streaming service MUBI to bring you Nightmare on Film Street, a programme of horror films screened in the BAO Borough & BAO Noodle Shop Private Entertainment Rooms. There are heaps of international flicks on offer, including ‘The Babadook’, French film ‘Zombi Child’, and ‘The Love Witch’, and tickets include a choice of film and the no doubt scarily good Cinema Set Menu.

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • London

It might be nearly a century since the Bloomsbury Set were gallivanting around WC1 but the area still packs plenty of creative heft, as demonstrated by this ten-day autumn festival, which this year boasts over 100 events around the theme of ‘Shining Light’, encompassing dance, music, talks, walks, science demos and street parties. Highlights of the programme include Store Street Feast, a traffic-free afternoon of food and fun amongst the independent shops of Store Street, Senate House’s family-friendly drop-in Discovery Sessions, and ‘Lights, Banners, Tigers’, an exhibition of neon light sculptures by artist Chila Kumari Burman (who did the Tate Britain display everyone went mad for last winter.) Check out the full programme of free fun here

 

  • Art
  • Mayfair

Mark Rothko is hard to think about. His work has become such an integral part of our cultural landscape that it’s almost impossible to separate his art from the myth of the man; this tortured artist who painted his pain. These late works on paper were all made when Rothko was at his sickest, barely mobile, crushed by depression. You want to find the torment and anguish, and that’s a shame because you end up missing the actual paintings. They’re beautiful things, full of blocks and lines of shimmering colours. Beyond the noise, the myth, the torment, what you end up with is painting, and this is it at its purest.

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Waterloo

At this eccentric mash-up of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ and Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’, guests are encouraged to turn up dressed like a character from either film and get involved with a drag-tastic night of food, music and fun. The four-course meal sounds particularly exciting, created as it is by Flavourology, the team behind Gingerline. Classic French cuisine meets fresh Asian flavours is what we’re promised. The whole venue will have been done up to the nines, and there’s a drag show written by ShayShay. A very full-on night awaits.

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