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Photograph: Courtesy of The Design Museum
Photograph: Courtesy of The Design Museum

Things to do in London today

The day’s best events, all in one place – it’s your social-emergency saviour for things to do today

By Time Out London editors
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There are thousands of things to do in London every day, even as the city reawakens from lockdown (and readjusts to the recent curfew). Londoners are finding all sorts of inventive ways to stay connected, whether it’s through outdoor art exhibitions, a stroll through a London wetland or Christmas shopping at virtual markets. To make your choice of what to do today a little easier, we’ve picked our favourite things to get you started. If you’re looking for things to do this weekend too, check out our guides to what’s on in London this Friday, this Saturday and this Sunday. Planning even further ahead? Here are all the great things going on in London each month

RECOMMENDED: read the full Time Out London hot list here

Secret 7
Secret 7
Photograph: Secret 7

1. Secret 7"

Things to do Exhibitions Now Gallery, Greenwich Peninsula

At the Secret 7" charity record sale, you won’t know which song lives in the vinyl grooves until you’ve parted with your money, but it’s worth the gamble. You’ll be going home with one of seven tracks, it could be Aretha Franklin’s ‘One Step Ahead’, or maybe Miles Davis’s ‘Miles Runs the Voodoo Down’ (‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ did not make the cut). Most importantly, there’s a chance its sleeve is a one-of-a-kind artwork made by a big-name artist. Lubaina Himid and Anish Kapoor have both contributed designs to raise money for Help Refugees. And even if you don’t get the seven-inch you were hoping for, there’s still an exhibition of 700 sleeves to see for free.

JP91A5
JP91A5
mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

2. The Painted Hall

News Events & Festivals

The Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall in Greenwich – sometimes called ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’ – has reopened to the public. Book your place in advance to see its exquisite floor to ceiling works painted between 1707 and 1726 by Sir James Thornhill. They’re considered to be some of the greatest Baroque decor ever created in England. 

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Wetlands Unravelled
Wetlands Unravelled
Photograph: Alec Stevens, ‘That Sinking Feeling’, photo by Julian Abrams

3. Wetlands Unravelled

Things to do London Wetland Centre, Barnes

Not to be confused with the manicured Walthamstow Wetlands, this outdoor art exhibition is taking place in the reedbeds of the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes. The one with the otters. To mark its twentieth anniversary, the centre is carefully placing sculptures and sound installations among the watery habitat that you can view from a distance. Look out for Alec Stevens’s ‘That Sinking Feeling’, little houses that protrude from the lagoon, reminding us of rising sea levels, while the ducks swim around them without a care in the world. 

Installation view of Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern featuring Anthro/Socio (Rin de Sp inning) 1992 . Photograph by Tate Photography (Matt Greenwood). Artwork (c) Bruce Nauman / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020
Installation view of Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern featuring Anthro/Socio (Rin de Sp inning) 1992 . Photograph by Tate Photography (Matt Greenwood). Artwork (c) Bruce Nauman / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020
Installation view of Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern featuring Anthro/Socio (Rin de Sp inning) 1992 . Photograph by Tate Photography (Matt Greenwood). Artwork (c) Bruce Nauman / ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020

4. Bruce Nauman at Tate Modern

Art Contemporary art Tate Modern, Bankside

Obscene, violent, intense and somehow totally mundane: American artist Bruce Nauman’s work is a horrifying exploration of life’s absurdity. At this major Tate show, we see him doing simple, repetitive things in his early video works, including one where he’s literally bouncing off the walls. Later, it all becomes more claustrophobic. Footage of screaming clowns. CCTV cameras. A neon sculpture on the wall cuts through the darkness with the message:  ‘run from fear, fun from rear’. Nauman’s art is saying don’t worry, life has always been this strange, and it always will be. 

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Mount Stewart, County Down
Mount Stewart, County Down
Photograph: National Trust

5. The National Trust parks

News Transport & Travel

As lockdown eases, the National Trust and its glorious green spaces are springing back to life. Some of the Trust’s outdoor spaces are now open for you to get a healthy dose of the green stuff, but many have a new pre-booking system in place to ensure crowds are restricted and social distancing can be upheld, so do check if spaces are sold out before visiting.

Atrium of IWM London with the artwork "History of Bombs" by Ai Wei Wei.
Atrium of IWM London with the artwork "History of Bombs" by Ai Wei Wei.
Photograph: © IWM

6. Ai Weiwei: ‘History of Bombs’

Art Imperial War Museum, Lambeth

The Imperial War Museum has reopened with a startling installation from Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The show sees life-size diagrams of explosive devices – from WWI hand grenades to nuclear missiles – cover the IWM’s floor and stairs. It’s cold and implacable, eerie and weirdly beautiful. 

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

7. Toyin Ojih Odutola: ‘A Countervailing Theory’

Art Barbican Centre, Barbican

The sheer intensity of The Curve’s bendy, pitch-black space means that once you’ve seen a powerful piece here, you never forget it. We have high hopes for this takeover by Toyin Ojih Odutola, whose cycle of 40 drawings will fill the gallery’s 90-metre sweep, accompanied by a conceptual soundscape from Peter Adjaye and a new text from author Zadie Smith.

chemical brothers, design museum electronic exhibition
chemical brothers, design museum electronic exhibition
Photograph: Luke Dyson

8. 'Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers'

News Events & Festivals

With this expansive exhibition charting the history of electronic dance music, The Design Museum has accidentally produced the most prescient show for lockdown times. In parts, it’s a tribute to the ravers who turned face masks into fashion, at a time when every visitor will (hopefully) be wearing one. 

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Kricket
Kricket
Photograph: Kricket

9. Eat Out to Help Out at a London restaurant

Restaurants

Looking at your food bill and feeling forlorn now that August is behind us? There’s actually no need to. The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme – which aimed to lure people back out to restaurants by offering them 50 percent off the price of their meal – may have come to a close, but many London restaurants are now offering to foot the bill when you pay them a visit. While a load of them rolled out the offer in September, October is looking a little leaner. But there are still bargains to be had at some top London restaurants

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