View to the skyline of the financial district Canary Wharf in London during autumn time, United Kingdom

London: Things To Do & Where to Visit in Autumn

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Exciting activities in the Big Smoke

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Crunchy orange leaves, the return of coats, hot drinks thawing the chill in your hands: autumn is a wonderful season – and London is an exciting city to spend it in. There’s always plenty of things to do in the big smoke, but if you’re looking for something with an autumnal edge, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s the C&TH guide to things to do in autumn in London.

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Things To Do In Autumn in London

Chow Down On Childhood Favourites at Seed Library, Shoreditch

An exclusive partnership between Seed Library and Norman’s Cafe is bringing British classics to Shoreditch. With an opening menu featuring the likes of Smiley Faces, Whipped cod’s roe with Frazzles, Chip Butties and Chicken Nuggets, it’ll make your inner child’s heart soar. There’s even syrup pudding with custard to finish it off. 21 September–16 November. onehundredshoreditch.com

Make the Most of the Museums

London was recently declared the best city in the world for free attractions. The diamond in our crown? A plethora of free museums. From historical destinations (British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum) to art galleries (National Gallery, Tate Modern) to science destinations (Natural History Museum, Science Museum), there’s truly something for everyone.

"The National History Museum in Kensington, London, UK"

Natural History Museum

Celebrate Black History Month

London is a great city to celebrate Black history year-round – from Black History Walks to the Black History Tube Map to a range of talks and exhibitions – but there will be a special series of events taking place across October to celebrate the designated Black History Month. There’s plenty of exciting events on the agenda already, with more to come as we approach October. blackhistorymonth.org.uk

Experience Spanish Cuisine for Gastronomy Month

Taking place throughout September, Estrella Galicia’s second annual Gastronomy Month sees the city’s best Spanish pubs, bars and restaurants bind together to celebrate the glory of Spanish cuisine. From dishes paired with beers, to special tasting menus, to masterclasses, there’s plenty to do (and plenty of beer to sample). estrellagaliciabeer.co.uk

a beer being poured beside a plate of fish

Celebrate Disabled Artists at Unlimited Festival

Featuring dance, performance, comedy, music and visual arts this biennial festival celebrates the work of disabled artists, and will return to the Southbank Centre this September. 7–11 September. southbankcentre.co.uk

Head to an Exhibition

Ticked most of London’s many museums off your bucket-list already? Time to delve into the world of exhibitions. This autumn, there’s plenty to look forward to: Carolee Schneemann’s ‘Body Politics’ at the Barbican, LuYang’s immersive ‘LuYangNetiNeti’ at the Zabludowicz Collection, and Lucian Freud’s ‘New Perspectives’ at the National Gallery, amongst many others.

dopamine land light instillation

Dopamine Land

Visit a Covered Market

Markets like Columbia Road Flower Market are gorgeous year round, but especially so in the summer months. The autumnal answer? Covered markets. From Borough Market to the wonderfully sustainable Mercato food markets (in Mayfair and Elephant & Castle), there are plenty of permanent markets to explore in London, as well as weekend specials. visitlondon.com

Get a Glimpse Behind Closed Doors at Open House Festival

This two-week London festival is a wonderful free thing to do in London this autumn. Taking place in September, the festival gives guests a peek behind usually-closed doors, from the most iconic to the most architecturally unique. Join tours, guided walks and activities to make the most of it. The full programme is yet to be announced, but last year you could ballot to win entry to 10 Downing Street, wander around City Hall unescorted and hear stories from the City’s livery companies. 8–21 September. open-city.org.uk

See the Autumn Leaves in Richmond Park

As the leaves turn golden in Richmond Park, the 600 red deer that call it home get even harder to spot – except when they, fuelled by mating season, lock antlers and roar. A true autumnal sight.

Red deer in Richmond Park, London

Celebrate Bonfire Night Where It All Began

Remember, remember… Back in 1605, when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, he accidentally started a bit of a trend: Bonfire Night. Where better to spend it than the city where it all began? There are plenty of annual displays in parks across the city –Wimbledon, Alexandra Palace, Morden, and Battersea Park among them – but many of them are ticketed, so make sure you book ahead.

Experience Diwali in London

Celebrate the festival of lights this autumn as Diwali returns to Trafalgar Square. Enjoy music and dance performances, family-friendly craft activities, community stalls and delicious food from India and beyond, as part of a large programme of activities. Diwali is timed to coincide with the new moon in October or November, so the actual date varies from year to year; this year, it’s on Sunday 9 October. diwaliinlondon.com

Looking over Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the River Thames towards the City of London, England, UK, Europe, at night

Globe Theatre

Catch the End of the Summer Season at The Globe

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, the open-top Globe theatre packs up for the season – it’s no fun standing in the cold and rain, after all. If you’re looking for things to do in autumn in London on those rare nicer days, performances are still going at The Globe until mid-October: I, JoanThe Tempest, and Henry VIII. Alternatively, take a guided tour of the theatre, or get excited for their Winter season in the indoor, candlelit Sam Wanamaker theatre. shakespearesglobe.com

Celebrate London Restaurant Festival

Back this October for its 14th year, 350 restaurants will come together this autumn for the London Restaurant Festival. Order a martini at Dukes Bar, Sir Ian Fleming’s bar of choice. Allegedly it was here that he coined the phrase ‘shaken not stirred’ – but, whether that’s true or not, Alessandro Palazzi still makes the meanest martini in town. londonrestaurantfestival.com

Watch The Lord Mayor’s Show

Another wonderful – and slightly wacky – free thing to do in London, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a 5 km long procession between Bank and Aldwych celebrating the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor. Dating back to the 13th century, this ceremonial role is slightly different to that of the Mayor of London: the Lord Mayor represents, supports and promotes the businesses and residents of the City of London. The annual parade features floats, music, and even a rowing race. 12 November; lordmayorsshow.london

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew

Get Excited for Christmas at Kew

If you’re someone who shuns all acknowledgement of Christmas until December, maybe skip this entry. The magical Christmas at Kew light trail captivates guests – and floods Instagram feeds – from mid-November every year. Head to west London for magical after dark activities, sparkling tunnels of light, and delicious independent food vendors. kew.org

Featured Image: Getty