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Photograph: Totally Thames

Unmissable events in London this autumn 2022

Chilling out at home won’t be an option this autumn when London’s plays, exhibitions and concerts are this good

Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
Eddy Frankel
Things To Do Editors

The leaves might be turning orange but hibernating is not an option. Classically, autumn is the time when London’s cultural scene comes alive: new theatre shows head to the stage, galleries are filled with fresh exhibitions, and large-scale events take over the town. And this year London is serving up a buffet of delicious unmissable events and things to do this autumn. 

After blockbuster exhibitions? Check out the British Museum’s ‘Heiroglyphs’ or the V&A’s ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’. Want to see stunning art? Frieze, the National Gallery’s Lucian Freud: ‘New Perspectives’ and Chinese artist LuYang have your back. Looking for powerful new theatre? Grab tickets to the RSC’s stage adaption of Studio Ghibli’s ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ or a major new revival of Arthur Millar’s ‘The Crucible’ at the National. Rather dance to big beats? Hit up Dialled In festival or Waterworks

Or, catch one of the many city-wide events celebrating all the odd nooks and crannies of our glorious city. Like Totally Thames, which will be celebrating our beautiful, dirty old river with night-time flotillas, boat races and exhibitions. Or Open House, unlocking private and secret buildings all over town for us to have a gander around. 

Yes, autumn is here and there is a bountiful harvest of brilliant stuff to get up to. Better start filling up your diary. 

Want more? Find out what else is happening in September, October, and November 2022.

The best things to do in London this autumn 2022

Get your cinephile fix at London Film Festival
  • Film

This year’s BFI London Film Festival will kick off with as close to a sure bet as you can get: the world premiere of the movie version of ‘Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical’. From there, the UK’s primo film festival will continue its post-pandemic revival in fine style with 11 days and nights of galas, screenings, events, shindigs and film-related happenings around London and other cities around the UK. It’s the most democratic of the world’s big film festivals, with tickets readily available to the public and simultaneous screenings taking its galas out to movie-lovers nationwide. 


  • Art
  • South Kensington

One of the stand-outs of the V&As 2022 programme, having been delayed from its original opening last year, ‘Hallyu! The Korean Wave’ is a large-scale exploration of Korean pop culture, and the first of its kind in the UK. Hallyu (meaning Korean Wave) started gaining traction in the 1990s, encompassing Korean music, movies, fashion and online games. The exhibition will take a close look at the explosion of K-Pop bands such as BTS as well as the 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’ craze. The BTS Army of stans essentially rule the internet, and are responsible for some brilliant online activism, so there’s a whole lot to explore from 2020 alone.  

  • Art
  • Bankside

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Abkans’ are massive woven sculptures that look like the type of bizarre, organic creation you’d expect to discover buried in the deepest reaches of a rain forest. Made in the 60s and 70s, the ‘Abkans’ cemented the artist’s reputation - as well they should’ve, because these towering, raw shapes are absolutely brilliant. And, as luck would have it, you can see a whole load of them in Tate Modern’s huge Blavatnik Building this Autumn. If that wasn’t reason enough to go, they’re also showing some of the Polish artist’s other large-scale works, including ‘War Games’, sculptures making use of felled tree trunks. 

  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

Famous for portraying one controversial real-life figure in ‘The Crown’ – Diana Spencer – Corrin is on the stage this Autumn playing a fictional character, albeit one so famous they’re practically as iconic as Diana.

Corrin will be leading a brand new West End adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’, her exuberant comic novel about an immortal, gender-switching androgyne. Born male in the reign of Elizabeth I, Orlando lives on for 300 years having a bloody good time, occasionally inexplicably changing sex.

This new version will be directed by the great Michael Grandage, from an adaptation by Neil Bartlett. It doesn’t have a venue yet, but we’re promised one will be announced soon.

  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

There hasn't been a fully new large-scale theatre built from scratch in the West End since the Gillian Lynne Theatre opened its doors in 1973. We’ve known for a while that Nimax – one of the major West End theatre owners – was building a new venue as part of the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road. Now, @sohoplace, a hypermodern 602-seat theatre that will, uniquely for the West End, be configured in the round will open this autumn, with the first production due to be announced soon.


  • Art

Sure, the Tate’s great, the Hayward is wonderful and the National Gallery is a delight. But not all art in London is big and overwhelming, lots of it smaller, more experimental, more intimate. That’s where the city’s smaller, commercial galleries come in. Want giants of nineteenth century art? Feminist icons? Experimental youngsters? Weird conceptualism, twisty abstraction? You can find all of it in the galleries, and all of it is free. So here are the smaller shows we’re most excited about this autumn, and if you can’t wait, here are the ten best shows you can see right now. 

  • Art
  • Bankside

This major retrospective of the Slovakian artist’s work concentrates on her output from 1960s onwards, when she first started making plaster sculptures by pouring the liquid into rubber balloons. She would then shape it either by hand or by submerging it in water, resulting in a series of beautifully delicate sculptures that often look like egg shells, spiders’ webs or birds’ nests. The artist also liked to photograph her creations in natural settings, highlighting their connection to the rural landscape. Summary: gorgeous, one-of-a-kind art by an artist deserving greater recognition. 

London at its autumnal best...

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