What to do in London in Autumn?
A short guide of the best plans that take place during October & November in the British capital
From food festivals — because we love food — to music celebrations. From outdoor to indoor activities. From relaxed artistic events to full-on physical plans. And from things to do alone or in a group. No matter what your preference is, we have you covered. The following is a list of exciting plans and suggestions that take place in the following months. Hopefully, you’ll return to this list more than once for upcoming ideas and inspiration.
You can find EVERYTHING that takes place on a monthly and weekly basis between pages 295–295 of our London Guide, but today we want to share with you our top picks. Continue reading to find out.
1. Enjoy the mushroom season at London’s best markets
From September to November, mushrooms sprout from the ground in forests and river banks across the UK. The mushroom season is very popular amongst London’s restaurants and markets, where chefs creatively dish up all kinds of well-known edible fungus. You’ll easily find them everywhere as they are a well-liked food and rich in nutritional value. There are two markets, however, that are worth checking out: Borough Market and the perhaps less known Maltby Street Market. Whether you’re looking to stock up your pantry ready for the week ahead or try some amazingly fresh produce, these two markets have you covered.
Borough Market: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL (Google), Mon-Sat (10am-5pm), Fri (10am-6pm)
Maltby Street Market: Maltby St, London SE1 3PA (Google), Sat (10am-5pm), Sun (11am-4pm)
2. Photograph the hues of ochre at a leafy park
As London turns into vivid ochre and old gold, parks present the greatest opportunity to capture those Autumn colours at their full splendour. From the little city gardens to the extensive royal parks, you’ll be able to capture this seasonal charm. Our favourite parks to spend the day photographing the changing tree tones are the following. St James’s Park, for its picturesque scenery and skyline views from the blue bridge. Regent’s Park will not only be interesting in terms of diverse flora and fauna, but also for the cultural program. The stunning views of Canary Wharf combined with the vivid tree colours, make Greenwich Park one of the best locations to capture the essence of London — glass, concrete and nature. And last but not least: Richmond Park, the largest of the Royal Parks. In addition to the scenery, the deer cull in November making it an even greater opportunity for photographers.
3. Fuel your creativity by checking these museum’s new exhibits
London’s cultural calendar steams up around this time of the year and new exhibitions open almost every week. Libraries, shows and museums become a powerful source of inspiration and fun around Autumn. London has an exhaustive list of museums — more than 250 as of 2019 — so the truth is you’re never far away from one, which is great. In fact, London has some of the world’s finest museums such as the British Museum, the V&A and the National Gallery. The best? They are free. Don’t miss the opportunity to see in person London’s remarkable art, it’s stimulating and it won’t leave you indifferent. Also, the Museums at Night Festival takes place on the last weekend of October.
4. Join a walking tour
One of the best things about London is that you’ll always learn something new about it. Whatever the area of knowledge you choose — architecture, culture or people — there will be several fun facts you probably don’t know yet. By joining a walking tour, you’ll be able to learn about the nooks and crannies of London; that building you spotted years ago but never knew what it was, yet another wife of Henry VIII (only joking, he officially had six) and maybe a new artist that you didn’t know about. From Royal London to Harry Potter and maybe something related to Brutalism? Learn about places, people and traditions you might have never heard about before. There’s plenty of choice and a big area to cover, you’ll spend a couple of nice entertaining hours and probably meet interesting people along the way.
Want to know more about London? Check our superb walking tours around London.
5. Watch one of the 300+ films screened during London Film Festival (or more)
The BFI London Film Festival hits cinemas across the city from October 2–13, 2019. Since its foundation in 1953, this annual film festival has become the biggest and brightest event in the capital’s film-going calendar. The opening night gala debuted with ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ and ‘The Irishman’, which took place on Wednesday this week. The agenda is full of other great screenings (over 300 films, documentaries and shorts from approximately 50 countries), masterclasses with filmmakers, talks and workshops amongst others.
Check the entire program of the London Film Festival 2019.
6. Feel the excitement at the fireworks of Bonfire Night
Remember, remember the fifth of November…Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, remembers a most curious incident that happened on the night of the 5th of November 1605. If you happen to have our London Guide, you can check the chronology on page XXII for a deeper understanding. As a summary, James I, the first Scottish king to also become England’s, set the Union of the Crowns. The population was confused and a bit angry to be honest. Guy Fawkes and a group of friends were arrested for placing explosives beneath the House of Lords with the intention of, you know, blowing it all up. Nowadays, the event is celebrated (yes celebrated) with numerous local fireworks, being Battersea the most popular. However, there are plenty of locations where you can enjoy fireworks, food and funfairs.
7. Welcome the new Lord Mayor of The City of London
The Lord Mayor’s Show takes place on November 9, 2019. It starts at 11am and lasts all day. This ceremony dates back to the 16th century and has the purpose of welcoming the new lord mayor, who is appointed every year. The event consists of fun parade of over 6,000 people, where marching bands, dance troupes and carriages march around the City of London. If you want to have a sneak peak of what you’ll see, don’t miss the main carriage at Museum of London — yes, it’s been in use since 1757. But that shouldn’t surprise you given that this year, the Lord Mayor’s Show turns 804.
Check the 2019 show locations and procession at their official website.
8. Stretch your muscles at London’s ice rinks
We know, as if squeezing in a gym session during the week wasn’t hard enough, let alone schedule a workout during the weekend when one is meant to have a break. Worry not as ice skating is probably one of the most fun ways to get your muscles working. Stretch your body out over the weekend at some of the capital’s most iconic ice rinks. Most of them start somewhere around November and are open until late January. Our favourite one has to be the ice rink at the Natural History Museum (page 59), which opens very soon on October 19th. The setting is beautiful and the atmosphere magical, especially when it gets closer to Christmas.
Want to get started? Check the Top 6 places to go ice skating in London in winter.
9. Book a show during London Jazz Festival
Starting on Friday November 15, 2019, the London Jazz Festival brings musicians from all over the world into the capital to deliver spectacular live performances of all things jazz. Enjoy some of the best known Jazz masters flexing their chops at multiple venues across London. Hundreds of gigs take place until Sunday 24 November 2019, from concert halls to street corners, from pricey shows to free performances. Check the entire agenda here to see all shows and venues (Barbican is one of them) and if you can’t wait — I mean, who is not looking forward to this? — subscribe to their Spotify list.
10. Leave London for a day trip
If you love London, but also love to get away from the noise, traffic and pollution from time to time, you should treat yourself to a well-earned weekend away. From historical cities like Bath, to university cities such as Oxford or Cambridge. From royal cities like Windsor or trendy cities like Bristol, we have you covered. These pretty locations might seem like they’ve been snatched from a fairytale, but they are closer to London than what you think — less than 2 hours away.
Escape the business of the city for the day and check 5 Day Trip Ideas From London