101 autumn in London ideas to fall for

Fireworks explode in oranges and reds over Tower Bridge on Bonfire Night.
Fireworks over Tower Bridge on Bonfire Night. Credit: Sung Kuk KIm. Image courtesy of iStock.
Autumn colours, fun festivals, blockbuster exhibitions… this season serves up plenty of treats.
From unique events such as Bonfire Night or Halloween, to the latest theatre shows or exhibitions, these 101 autumn activities have your September, October and November sorted.

Must-see London autumn events

  1. Head down to London’s famous river for a whole month of exciting exhibitions, walks, concerts and more, as part of the Totally Thames festival. 1-30 Sep
  2. Look the part with makeovers, do some late-night shopping or go on a treasure hunt, as London Beauty Week takes over Covent Garden Piazza. 11-15 Sep
  3. Rub shoulders with designers, as the London Fashion Week opens its doors to the public for the first time, with access to six fashion shows. 13-17 Sep
  4. Catch the last of Underbelly Festival’s shows – including an immersive Jules Verne-inspired adventure – as it closes for another season. Until 29 Sep
  5. Paddle, canoe or row with thousands of others, as Regatta London fills the Thames. 29 Sep
  6. Celebrate Black History Month across London, including African Caribbean history walks in Tottenham and a Windrush generation photography exhibition in Croydon. 1-31 Oct
  7. Tuck into turkey and pumpkin pie and soak up Canadian and American culture at restaurants and pubs in the capital for Thanksgiving. On and around 14 Oct and 28 Nov
  8. Mark the festival of lights with Diwali events, from a free Diwali festival in Trafalgar Square, to Bollywood dance workshops and crafts at the National Maritime Museum. Or visit the ornate BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. 26 Oct-3 Nov
  9. Remember, remember the fifth of November… If you’d somehow forgotten, here’s a reminder: London Bonfire Night fireworks displays mix pyrotechnics, seasonal food and family fun. On and around 5 Nov

Find more world-class London events in autumn months.

Top theatre in London for autumn 2019

  1. As the nights draw in, it’s the perfect time of the year to see one of London’s top musicals – travel to the land of Oz with Wicked, be rocked out by School of Rock or follow a missionary all the way to Uganda in hilarious The Book of Mormon.
  2. Get in early to book tickets to War Horse, which returns for limited season with incredible life-size puppetry. 18 Oct-23 Nov
  3. Be enchanted by everyone’s favourite nanny, as Mary Poppins opens this October with its timeless storyline and catchy songs. 23 Oct-29 Mar
  4. See the revival of 1960s classic Fiddler on the Roof before it closes in November. Until 2 Nov

See more London theatre shows.

Museum and art exhibitions in London this autumn

  1. Look at how war impacts culture with free Culture Under Attack exhibitions at IWM London, from the oppression of creativity to people using music to speak out. Until 5 Jan
  2. Find galactic marvels in Greenwich with The Moon Exhibition at National Maritime Museum (until 5 Jan), Mortal Moon at Queen's House (until Jan) and Marvellous Moons at Royal Observatory (until 20 Mar).
  3. Learn more about London’s architecture at the Guildhall Art Gallery; from designs that were never completed with The London That Never Was (6 Sep-8 Dec) or artists interpretations with Architecture of London (until 1 Dec).
  4. Be stunned by supernovae and go crazy for comets as the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition returns to the National Maritime Museum. 13 Sep-26 Apr
  5. Delve into anxiety in the modern world in the Science Gallery’s thought-provoking new display. 19 Sep-12 Jan
  6. The British Museum looks east this autumn, with its Inspired by the East exhibition – discover how western art has been influenced by the Islamic world. 10 Oct-26 Jan
  7. Find yourself transported to the red planet as Design Museum’s Moving to Mars exhibition creates otherworldly immersive environments. 18 Oct-23 Feb
  8. It’s play time at the Wellcome Collection, which looks into how playing affects us, even in adult life, with Play Well. 24 Oct-8 Mar
  9. Uncover the mysteries of Tutankhamun’s life and death through more than 150 objects from his tomb, at the Saatchi Gallery. 2 Nov-3 May
  10. Mark the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s pioneering album with the free London Calling exhibition at Museum of London. 15 Nov-1 May

Find more exhibitions in London.

Places to explore in autumn

  1. Make the most of a quieter time of year with a visit to London’s top attractions – pick up a London Pass for discounts, special entry and queue jumping.
  2. Shuffle your way through fallen autumn leaves in London’s best parks and gardens, which are swathed in oranges and yellows at this time of year. Or, go on London autumn walks with guided tours.
  3. Curl up in front of a roaring fire with a warming drink at one of London’s cosy pubs – perfect for darker nights after the clocks change in the UK on 27 October.
  4. London’s neighbourhoods look beautiful at this time of the year with autumn colours. Head out and explore outside Zone 1.
  5. It’s Black Friday on 29 November, so rush out to the city’s top shopping destinations and department stores for plenty of bargains and autumn fashion deals.

Find more of the best autumn spots in London.

Unmissable autumn experiences

  1. Five hours of ABBA themed entertainment? Gimme, gimmie, gimme! Enjoy immersive theatre, dancing and a three-course meal with Mama Mia! The Party at The O2. 29 Aug-16 Feb
  2. Be treated to daredevil high-wire acts on an immersive journey through a plastic-filled island with Thank You for Having Us, in Cheapside. 7 Sep
  3. Help create your better self with life-improving experiences, workshops and talks at the Mind, Body, Soul extravaganza at Alexandra Palace. 18-20 Oct
  4. Take part in a tea tasting, enjoy live music and laugh at top-notch comedy as part of after-hours Cutty Sark Lates. Ongoing
  5. See if you can cook like nonna on a pasta-making course (every Wed) or create autumn flower arrangements with a floristry workshop (every Wed and Sat) at Petersham Nurseries.

Free autumn events in London

  1. Enjoy free lunchtime performances at the Royal Opera House with Live at Lunch. 6 Sep-28 Feb
  2. Go behind the doors of buildings usually closed to the public during Open House London. 21-22 Sep
  3. Explore 20km (12 miles) of traffic-free streets for one day only at the Reimagine car-free day, which hosts events and activities in the City of London, Tower Bridge and London Bridge. 22 Sep
  4. Coo over cars of all shapes and sizes at the Regent Street Motor Show. 2 Nov
  5. Line the City of London’s streets for oodles of pomp and pageantry, as the Lord Mayor’s Show ushers in the new Lord Mayor of London. 9 Nov
  6. Wear a poppy and take time to recognise those who gave their lives in two world wars and more recently, on Remembrance Day. 10-11 Nov

Find more free events in London.

Spooky Halloween London experiences

  1. Master the Dark Arts, as the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is given a Halloween makeover with floating pumpkins and duals with Death Eaters. 27 Sep-10 Nov
  2. Hold onto your seat and prepare to be afraid, very afraid… Terrifying show Ghost Stories returns to London this October. 3 Oct-4 Jan
  3. Visit some of London’s scariest attractions this Halloween, from tales of torture at the Tower of London, to bone-chilling experiences at the London Dungeon, ghosts at Hampton Court Palace or eerie taxidermy at the Grant Museum of Zoology.
  4. Follow in the footsteps of a cold-blooded killer on a Jack the Ripper Ghost Tour.
  5. Learn about the spooky history of London as you take in some of the city’s key sights with The Ghost Bus Tours.

Find more scary activities and Halloween events in London.

Autumn food and drink ideas

  1. Global flavours, masterclasses, recipe book launches, quirky picnics... The Carnaby Eats festival sorts out your September food cravings. 1-30 Sep
  2. Greenwich Market goes potty for plant-based food, as Vegan Vibes GMT offers up handheld bites set to DJ tunes. 6 Sep and 4 Oct
  3. Learn how to make sushi, go on a restaurant-hopping tour and enjoy special menus during the London Restaurant Festival. 1-31 Oct
  4. Don your lederhosen for Oktoberfest at Millwall Park (3-6 Oct and 10-13 Oct), Olympia London (24-26 Oct) and the City of London (15-16 Nov).
  5. Get into the spirit, as London Cocktail Week returns to Brick Lane with more than 30 pop-up bars, cocktail-making experiences and DJ sets. 4-13 Oct
  6. Celebrate National Curry Week (7 October) at a top south Asian eatery, including Michelin-starred AmayaTrishna and Veeraswamy.
  7. Enjoy vegan beers and Bratwurst at Fest Camden’s Vegtoberfest12 and 19 Oct
  8. Autumn is the traditional harvest time, so tuck into hearty food such as Sunday roasts, fish and chips or afternoon tea (you’ll need that extra fuel for winter…).

Find more food and drink inspiration.

Autumn activities for culture vultures

  1. Venture to Waltham Forest, The Mayor’s London Borough of Culture for 2019, for a jam-packed events programme spanning film, music and art this autumn. Until 31 Dec
  2. Join masterclasses or create bespoke items to take home at shops throughout Seven Dials during its Art Month festival. 1-30 Sep
  3. Get ahead of the trends by sussing out the latest design masterpieces with Beazley Designs of the Year at the Design Museum. 11 Sep-9 Feb
  4. Use the Mid-autumn Festival (13 Sep) as the perfect excuse to have your fill of Asian delicacies in Chinatown – try Golden Gate Cake Shop for mooncakes, the traditional treat at this time of year.
  5. Get cosy in front of an independent film at the Raindance Film Festival, across London’s West End. 18-29 Sep
  6. Delve into historic and contemporary Japanese culture through film at the Barbican's Japanese Avant-garde and Experimental Film Festival. 20-22 Sep
  7. Get your culture fix into the night, with a series of “lates” events at museums and galleries across London, as part of the Emerge Festival. 27-28 Sep
  8. Trafalgar Square turns Tokyo in late September, for the free Japan Matsuri festival of Japanese culture. 29 Sep
  9. Celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year, by making new year cards at JW3. 29 Sep-1 Oct
  10. Discover the best new films with 12 days of screenings, events and talks at BFI London Film Festival. 2-13 Oct
  11. World-class art, music and talks combine at Frieze London in Regent’s Park. 3-6 Oct
  12. Be mesmerised by contemporary dance during the Dance Umbrella festival across London – also keep an eye out for special workshops and talks. 8-27 Oct

Search for London events by day.

Tune-tastic things to do in autumn

  1. Hold your country’s flag aloft, as the BBC Proms in the Park signals the end of the two-month-long BBC Proms with performances in Hyde Park – read our top tips for attending. 14 Sep
  2. Hear your favourite film scores, from Skyfall to Harry Potter, live during the Royal Albert Hall’s Festival of Film. 3 Oct-3 Nov
  3. Take your pick from music, dance, theatre and outdoor events in beautiful surrounds – from the Old Royal Naval College to the Queen’s House – with Greenwich Performs. 4-13 Oct
  4. Discover something new with Indian classical music concerts, or join a special yoga class during the Darbar Festival at the Barbican Centre. 10-13 Oct
  5. John Legend heads the Bluesfest bill, as the dedicated blues and soul festival returns to The O2. 25-27 Oct
  6. Mingle with top music talent at BBC Music Introducing Live, which brings workshops and discussions to Tobacco Dock. 31 Oct-2 Nov
  7. See music superstar Elton John as he takes to the stage for his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, at The O2. 4 Nov-9 Dec
  8. Get your jazz hands ready as the EFG London Jazz Festival returns with a series of concerts. 15-24 Nov

Find more music in London.

Make memories with the kids

  1. Explore the history of London through the animals that have lived in it, as you walk through immersive exhibition Beasts of London, at the Museum of London. Until 5 Jan
  2. Explore the wonderfully whiffy world of London’s sewers with Big Fat Poo Bergers. 19-22 Sep
  3. See the battle to end all battles, as Marvel Universe LIVE! pits Marvel’s superheroes against their evil nemeses. 26 Sep-6 Oct
  4. It’s International Astronomy Day on 5 October, so head to the Peter Harrison Planetarium to see one of its out-of-this-world daily shows, including The Sky Tonight Live.
  5. Spend a whole week in London with the kids during October half-term, with activities and new adventures across London. 19-27 Oct
  6. Guns N’ Roses sang about November rain for a reason… So turn to these rainy day activities if there’s a downpour.
  7. Plan an action-packed family day out in London with top attractions for kids, family restaurants and kids shows.

Discover more family activities, including exiting experiences for teenagers.

Cool things for the 'gram

  1. Seek out secret London spots with Hidden London tours (ongoing) of some of the city’s disused Underground stations. Find out more about disused stations with the London Transport Museum's Hidden London: the Exhibition (11 Oct-Jan 2021)
  2. Frame the Ship of Tolerance’s colourful sails against the Millennium Bridge, for an Insta-worthy shot. 4 Sep-6 Oct
  3. Hit up your feed with mind-blowing immersive artworks, as part of the London Design Festival. 14-22 Sep
  4. Snap away at thousands of sequins and pearl buttons, as you experience the traditional Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival in Guildhall Yard. 29 Sep
  5. Watch on as a flock of sheep are “driven” across London Bridge (yes, really) at The Worshipful Company of Woolmen’s Charity Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. 29 Sep
  6. Marvel at the stories of people who saved St Paul’s Cathedral in the Second World War, with Where Light Falls projections. 25-27 Oct
  7. Capture glass sculptures in Kew Gardens as they sparkle at night, during Chihuly Nights. Until 26 Oct
  8. Snap the perfect selfie in front of the Infinity Chamber in Covent Garden, which is made up of thousands of colourful LED lights.

Find more Insta-famous places, including cafes, restaurants and selfie hotspots.

Sporting spectacles

  1. American football fever returns to London, as Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Stadium host the annual NFL London Games. 6 Oct-3 Nov
  2. Test your fitness in the Royal Parks Half Marathon, taking in Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens. 13 Oct
  3. See the world’s best track cyclists over six thrilling evenings of action, as Six Day London returns to Lee Valley VeloPark. 22-27 Oct
  4. Watch the climax of the men’s tennis season, as the world’s top-ranked players go head-to-head at the Nitto ATP Finals. 10-17 Nov

Find more sport in London.

The countdown to Christmas in London

  1. Get your skating fix early as London’s winter ice rinks pop-up across the capital. Top rinks include the Natural History Museum (Oct-Jan TBC), Somerset House (13 Nov-12 Jan), Tower of London (16 Nov-6 Jan) and Hampton Court Palace (22 Nov-6 Jan).
  2. Soak up the start of the festive season with Christmas in Leicester Square, including a market and La Clique cabaret show under the spiegeltent. 8 Nov-5 Jan
  3. Wizarding wonders are given a festive twist this winter as Hogwarts in the Snow brings plenty of fun activities and features. 16 Nov-26 Jan
  4. Be wowed by Christmas at Kew's stunning light displays and immersive art. 20 Nov-5 Jan
  5. Skate, shop, feast and enjoy rides at Winter Wonderland, which returns to Hyde Park with heaps of family fun. 21 Nov-5 Jan
  6. Enjoy Winter at the Southbank Centre, with its famous winter market, bars and wintry experiences. 8 Nov-5 Jan
  7. London Bridge’s riverside is turned into a seasonal wonderland with market stalls, food and drink as part of Christmas by the River. Nov-Jan TBC
  8. Don’t miss the unique spectacle of the Greenwich Market Lantern Parade, which winds its way around the market. 20 Nov
  9. Book ahead to see one of London’s magical Christmas shows, from The Nutcracker at London Coliseum and A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic, to slapstick pantomimes.
  10. Start your Christmas shopping spree under sparkling Christmas lights, as they switch on in November. Bond Street, Carnaby, Covent Garden, Jermyn Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Seven Dials, South Molton Street all have stunning displays.

Plan ahead with more Christmas in London ideas.

If you're visiting another time of the year, find inspiration for each month. Or, if you'll be in London sooner, check out our top picks of things to do this weekend and activities for today.

Keep an eye out for special deals and offers for your visit; and make sure to download the Visit London app for inspiration on the go.