The answer is loads! London is a great place to visit any time of the year. I send a regular seasonal newsletter to subscribers so sign up here. I like to share all this good info on my blog too, so here goes, scroll down for theatre, museums and galleries, foodie stuff, shopping, parks and palaces, music and sport.
Here’s your Autumn/Winter 2017 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed (or other things you’ve heard about) send me an email ([email protected]) and I’ll get right back to you.
Have a look at Sue’s blog (itsyourlondon.co.uk/blog) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 4,250 followers for the latest news! Hope you enjoy your newsletter, let me know what you think!
OCTOBER This is a big month for film and art with major events for both creative industries. The 61st London Film Festival is a showcase for Hollywood stars and blockbuster films and yet still finds space for first-time directors and documentaries. Frieze Art Fair brings the art world to London and takes up residence in Regents Park showcases top galleries and there is a whole range of other shows around London offering some pieces at more affordable prices.
NOVEMBER The week of the 5th sees firework displays all over town as we mark Guy Fawkes Night when a group tried, but failed luckily, to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. It’s a great month for jazz fans when the London Jazz Festival brings top names to London’s famous night spots like Ronnie Scott’s. As winter is chilling the temperatures, you’ll see ice rinks opening all over town at great venues such as the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum. The Lord Mayor’s Show will delight the crowds as it has since 1215!
DECEMBER The build-up to Christmas is in full flow with all the famous lights decorating the streets of London with their best festive look. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park offers a fun fair and a large Christmas market offering something for all the family. Look out for the famous, tall Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, an annual present from the people of Norway in memory of Britain’s help during the 2nd World War where carols are sung each evening – a magical sound to put you in a festive mood.
October Starring Toby Stephens, Oslo opens at the Harold Pinter Theatre, exploring two individuals’ struggle to bring peace to the Middle East. Also covering big themes at the Wyndham, Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle stars the wonderful Anne -Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham looks at how random chance can change everything. Slaves of Solitude at the Hampstead theatre tells the story of a little-known wartime heroine. Young Marx at the Bridge theatre stars Rory Kinnear tells the story of Marx’s rather lively time ill spent in London. Just a short 9 week run for Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Natalie Dormer and David Oakes (from Victoria) in what is called an intoxicating dark comedy. October is a bumper month for new openings but I must just squeeze in a site-specific Agatha Christie at County Hall when Witness for the Prosecution will be staged in a courtroom setting.
November The big opening this month is Glengarry Glencross at the Playhouse theatre as it’s a much-loved film, a highly prized play and this production stars Christian Slater. More big news is the West End debut of Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad in Network at the National Theatre. Christmas is starting early with A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic starring Rhys Ifans. Shakespeare is never far from the London stage and this month brings us the opening of Anthony and Cleopatra at the Barbican starring Josette Simons and music by Laura Mvula. Not really theatre but bringing his new show to the Duchess theatre is the very funny Danny Bhoy.
December The long-awaited and hugely publicised opening of one of Broadway’s biggest shows Hamilton finally happens this month at the refurbished Victoria theatre. It’s the beginning of panto season and there’s a big one at the Palladium, where Dick Whittington has a top cast including Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Elaine Page. The excellent David Troughton stars in Titus Andronicus at the Barbican in their autumn run of Shakespeare. As it’s the festive season there are lots of kid’s shows including the Very Hungry Caterpillar at the Ambassadors with 75 lovable puppets.
October The Royal Academy host Dali/Duchamp explores the friendship of these major figures of 20th-century art through around 80 works ranging through painting, photography, sculpture and assemblages. Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys at the Courtauld Gallery brings together an outstanding group of portraits of the more humble side of life. He was one of the leading painters in Paris in the 1920s and 30s so a solo show is well deserved. At the National Gallery Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites shows the influence of the Van Eyck on this group, focussing on the Arnolfini Portrait. Don’t miss the huge and influential Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park and the associated Frieze Masters and sculpture park.
November I’m really looking forward to Tate Britain’s new show Impressionists in London: French artists in Exile 1870-1904, featuring French artists who sought refuge in London escaping war and insurrection in Paris. Many of my favourite painters will be on show including Monet, Pissarro, Sisley and Derain. At the Tate Modern, a comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani includes 12 of his famous nudes and thanks to virtual reality technology you can pop into early 20th Paris during your visit. The National Portrait Gallery brings us Cezanne Portraits with over 50 of his works including some which have never been seen in public in the UK.
December The Queen’s Gallery’s new exhibition is Charles ll: Art and Power looks at the resurgence of art, under Charles’s patronage after the austere Cromwellian era.
SHOPPING, FASHION AND MARKETS
October London Chocolate Week has events all over town from a chocoholic show at Olympia to themed cocktails at the best bars, they offer the chance to ‘learn’ about chocolate, I assume that’s code for ‘eat’! Don’t forget London’s regular markets: Portobello on Saturdays, Spitalfields biggest on Sundays and Camden all the time and Duke of York Square on the Kings Road has a wonderful food market on Saturdays
November Christmas markets are popping up all over town from the South Bank to Kew Gardens and the huge Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is full of chalet style stalls. The Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia is packed full of present ideas, and some for yourself of course!
December The Christmas lights will all be on now and London’s shopping street look at their festive twinkly best. Don’t miss Regent Street, Oxford Street, South Molton Street, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and the beautifully decorated shop windows including John Lewis, Liberty’s, Selfridges, Harrods and Bond Street’s top-end shops. Don’t forget that all the museums have great shops which are excellent places for top quality present hunting.
MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS
October The extraordinary annual show Wildlife Photographer of the Year opens at the Natural History Museum where you can marvel at shots that seem more real than actually being there. 100 pieces have been whittled down from an international entry of over 50,000 so you know they will be the very best there is. October sees the annual Museums at Night when museums as varied as Dickens House, Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London Canal Museum, and Keats House (as well as many of the big names) stay open late and put on special events. It’s a great chance to try out some less visited museums.
November The British Museum opens their Living with Gods: People, Places and Worlds Beyond which will look at how people believe across the ages through everyday objects of faith – looking at how they believe rather than what they believe in.
December One of my favourite bears gets his own show at last! The V&A Museum has Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic in a multi-sensory fun exhibition to delight the child in all of us. The Natural History Museum is holding a great festive event: New Year’s Eve Under the Sea where you can dance away 2017 and welcome in 2018 under their fabulous hanging blue whale skeleton called Hope.
October It’s Chocolate week at last and there a big show in Olympia with an amazing array of artisan chocolates, chocolate displays and even chocolate fashion shows. Familiar brands and new names are there to show the very best and there are loads try out here and all across London. Steve Parle of Dock Kitchen is opening a pasta restaurant Pastaio in Soho, Rambla from the Encant of Covent Garden folks opens in also in Soho and I’m keen to try both of these out. Donut Time, popular in Australia makes a first appearance in London on Shaftesbury Ave. Another opening with a pedigree is Sabor from the former Barrafina chef Nieves Barragan – good choice of name – to be found in the Heddon Street food area. Taking over from Chor Bizarre a world top 50 Indian restaurant called Indian Accent London sets up its new site in Mayfair.
November. A Michelin starred chef from Hong Kong is setting up in London, Cantonese cooking and dim sum will be found at Duddell’s in London Bridge. Popular pop-up chef, Leandro Carreira opens a solo venture called Londrino also in the London Bridge area. Passo in Old Street is the new home of Italian via LA cooking, offering 7am to midnight fare.
December All these restaurants have ‘late 2017’ for their openings so keep an eye on any that grab your fancy – could be arriving now or not! Chelsea legend The Bluebird is coming to White City with a new site in the old BBC Television Centre. Dean and Deluca, the New York deli comes to London and will be found in Mayfair. Jamie Oliver is taking up pubbing (running them not drinking in them!) with the aptly named Jamie Oliver’s Pub opening in Granary Square Kings Cross – there’ll be an outdoor roof terrace, a roof conservatory and lower floor restaurant. Still waiting for Tom Kerridge to set up shop in the Carlton Tower Rib Room.
PARKS & GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES
October Kew Gardens hosts the Handmade Fair where artists sell their own pieces directly to the public. Regent’s Park hosts the enormous marquees of Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters so expect lots of very fashionable arty looking folk in the park. Kensington Palace is holding spooky Ghost Tours around Halloween and I’m sure they have plenty of tales to tell!
November Kew Gardens put on a big show at Christmas with their Illuminations Trail, a one-mile sparkling path around the gardens including dancing illuminated fountains. It’s very popular so book early as it’s well worth a visit.
December Hyde Park hosts the huge Winter Wonderland event which has stalls selling food and gifts, a seasonal fun fair and even its own ice rink and Ferris wheel. The ice rinks will be open at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. The annual Peter Pan swimming race will take place on the Serpentine in Hyde Park on Christmas morning, an annual event for the very hardy since 1864! The Royal Palaces all have festive events and fairs and don’t miss the BBC Good Food Festival Festive Fayre at Hampton Court Palace.
October The NFL rolls back into town with 3 matches at Twickenham and Wembley and you can see the following teams: New Orleans Saints. Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, LA Rams, Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns. There will be a fan rally in Regents Street if you can’t get to the games. World Cup qualifiers see England play Slovenia at Wembley and let’s hope things continue to look good for Russia 2018. In contrast, the International Dance Championships are held at the Royal Albert Hall for Latin and Ballroom.
November The Autumn Rugby Union Internationals see the 4 Home Nation teams of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland take on the best of the southern hemisphere. Matches are held across the UK and Twickenham is hosting the 3 home games for England against Australia, Samoa and Argentina. The ATP end of season tournament takes place at the 02 where the top 8 men’s players battle to be World Tour Tennis Finals champion – sadly no defending champion Andy Murray this year as he’s injured.
December Tennis greats bring their skills and loads of fun to the Champions Tennis tournament at the Royal Albert Hall, they are just as competitive but hide it well! The London International Horse Show at Olympia is always popular and The World Darts Championships sees the world’s top darts players at Alexandra Palace competing over a major 2-week competition. Let’s not forget the brave folk who take the early swim in the chilly waters of the Serpentine Lake every year on Christmas morning!
October The autumn is always a busy time as the festival bands come indoors. Little Mix is on at the 02 Arena, as are Lady Gaga, Emeli Sande, Metallica, Lady Antebellum and Neil Diamond. Train play the Apollo Hammersmith as do Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders and Beth Ditto is playing KOKO. There is jazz on board the Golden Hind ship, the replica of Drake’s ship where a quartet will entertain. MOBO award winner Shakka is playing at the 02 Shepherds Bush Empire.
November The Jazz Café hosts Justin Currie (of Del Amitri) and Squeeze play the Royal Albert Hall. The 02 Empire Shepherds Bush is putting on a triple header of Midge Ure, the Christians and Altered Images. There’s another trio of stars on at the Royal Albert Hall where Jools Holland plays with Ruby Turner and Jose Feliciano. Deep Purple can be seen at the 02 Arena and in contrast Whiley is on at the 02 Brixton Academy and Alison Moyet plays at the Palladium.
December The Kooks celebrate 10 years together at Wembley Arena and Damon Albarn plays the 02 Arena with Gorillaz. Also at the 02 Arena is Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics with a 60 piece orchestra. Let’s Rock Christmas at the Wembley Arena bring you a host of 80s stars including Tony Hadley, Kim Wilde, Nik Kershaw, Go West and T’Pau. Festive tunes at the Royal Albert Hall with Christmas with Catherine Jenkins. A partnership of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball will no doubt fill the 02 Arena after recording an album together last year.
*All listings correct to the best of my knowledge but exact details should be checked with each venue.