October heralds the start of autumn, and there are some wonderful things happening in London this month.
Summer is long gone, night is falling when you leave the office, and we’re pulling our best cardigans out the back of our wardrobes. October is a top time for exploring our fair city, so get out there and see it with our guide to the best things to do in London this month. Let’s go!
1. Get squiffy in a jiffy at London Cocktail Week (October 1-7)
Start the month as you mean to go on – with a shit-ton of cocktails! Over seven days, more than 300 brilliant bars across London will be serving up special £6 cocktails to try, while an app guides you from venue to venue. You’ll need a pass to get your hands on ’em, and luckily our pals at Fever have got them – pick them up here.
2. Scare the living bejesus out of yourself this Halloween
Something wicked this way comes, as Halloween rolls into town once more. Grab a costume from these amazing London fancy dress shops and go spook up the city, because there’s so much to do. The Harry Potter Studio Tour has a spooky, ‘Dark Arts’ inspired look throughout October, and we’ve got tickets. Just as witchin’ is The Cauldron, London’s magical cocktail bar, now open in a bigger and better location.
Meanwhile, this Stranger Things-inspired party will turn your Halloween upside down – and it’s got an adult ballpit too! For something a little more out there, check out the London Bridge Experience, who are giving their tombs a hillbilly makeover. A little rogue perhaps, but we’re into it. Finally, you can head to Granary Square on the 27th for a rambunctious (and free) Halloween Skeleton Ball.
3. Say cheers to Oktoberfest
The beeriest celebration in all the land can be found in Camden, where the sights, sounds, and most importantly tastes of Munich will fill Electric Ballroom. The beer has come over especially, Herman ze German will run the food, and the incomparable Old Dirty Brasstards will provide the tunes – tickets available here. Meanwhile, London Oktoberfest takes over Millwall Park and Finsbury Park, with live oompah music and a bratwurst and beer included in the price of your ticket. Prost!
4. Marvel at a cascade of poppies (October 5)
They enraptured London when they filled the Tower of London’s moat a few years ago, and now the poppies have returned. You’ll find them spilling down the side of the Imperial War Museum this month. Full details here.
5. Get cosy in London’s ravishing riverside igloos (October 6)
The highlight of London’s winter season? We certainly think so! The oh-so-festive spheres are back for the winter, offering stunning views of Tower Bridge along with delicious food and a warm sense of contentment. Read all about them here.
⭐️ Head to Spain’s biggest indoor music festival (Oct 26-27) ⭐️
Fancy a fun little getaway? BIME Live promises two days of thrilling live music sheltered from the elements: Aphex Twin, MGMT, Editors, Jose Gonzalez, Kurt Vile, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Daniel Avery are just a few of the acts on this year’s lineup. Get tickets here! ⭐️ Sponsored. ⭐️
6. Join the horde on World Zombie Day (October 6)
Each year, the undead march through central London, bemusing tourists and generally looking like a horror film come to life. World Zombie Day returns this weekend, once more in search of brains.
7. See the human body in all its glory (October 6)
Well, these aren’t zombies, but they’re equally unsuitable for those with a delicate constitution. The celebrated Body Worlds exhibit opens a permanent home on Piccadilly Circus this month, and it’s extremely educating/gross (delete as appropriate). More here.
8. Immerse yourself in the world of film (October 10-21)
The magic of cinema is alive and well, as 225 features screen across the twelve days of the BFI London Film Festival. Helpfully organised into themed strands like Laugh, Debate, Love, and Journey, you’ll witness talent just bursting off of the screen.
9. Catch a high-stakes American football game (October 14, 21, 28)
It may be only a matter of time until London gets its own NFL team – but in the meantime, six US teams are making a trip across the pond for your pleasure. Seattle takes on Oakland on the 14th, Tennessee and Los Angeles do battle on the 21st, and reigning Super Bowl champions Philadelphia slug it out with Jacksonville on the 28th. 23, 32, HUT!
10. Be illuminated by a magical art installation (October 18)
As promotional stunts go, we can certainly get on board with this one. Giant wizard wands will illuminate St Paul’s this month, aiming to drum up buzz for the new Fantastic Beasts film quicker than you can say wingardium leviosa. See more here.
11. Lose yourself in books at a literary festival (October 18-28)
The premier event in the capital’s literary calendar falls in October, with a host of big names descending on Southbank Centre for the London Literature Festival. Literary giants such as Sir Salman Rushdie, Mohsin Hamid, and Carol Ann Duffy mix with figures from the worlds of entertainment and academia, in what amounts to Glastonbury for literature lovers.
12. Dance away the Last Nights of Havana (October 19)
Not a summer pop-up, not a winter pop-up, but something curiously in between. The opulence of 50s Havana inspires this glamorous opening, which features Cuban jazz, rum, and dancing aplenty.
13. Spend a night at the museum (October 25-27)
Disclaimer: not literally. Museums at Night returns for another late-night cultural extravaganza, with spots such as the Museum of London, London Transport Museum, and Sir John Soane’s Museum partaking.
14. Brace yourself for the Christmas onslaught
It’s not quite here yet, but you can sense the first rumblings of a festive season just itching to begin. The first of London’s ice rinks open in October, surely heralding the start of C*****mas.
A side-splitting brunch with a top-notch recipe: four comedians, BIRD’s bottomless fried chicken, and rum punch aplenty. Pick up your tickets to the Comedy Brunch here.
As festivals go, the Tequila & Mezcal Fest looks right up our street. More than 50 authentic Mexican spirits are available to sample here, and with tacos, art, and performances on offer, it’s set to be a grand day out. Get your tickets here.
All the toe-tapping numbers of a West End show, without having to leave the restaurant. A two-course brunch and bottomless drinks is supported by four hours of non-stop musical hits and an in-house dance troupe. Find your tickets here.
He’s always up to something, isn’t he? The maverick multi-hyphenate is running for US president in this immersive party, in what’s best described as a “hip-hop Secret Cinema for ‘ye-lovers”. Grab your tickets here.
A most seductive cocktail experience is on offer at Proud City, where libations and daring cabaret performances combine. Expect to witness burlesque at its finest when you pick up a ticket.
20-26. Soak up some culture
Guess who’s back, back again? It’s Yayoi Kusama, the pumpkin-lovin’ Japanese artist who will bring more mirrored trickery to the Victoria Miro gallery from October 3rd (more info). The Saatchi gallery take a page from the Brooker playbook with Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire (begins Oct 1st), the Barbican look at creative pairings in Modern Couples (from Oct 10th), and the Tate Modern‘s Anni Albers retrospective marries ancient weaving with modern art (from Oct 11th). You can pick up some reasonably priced art at the Affordable Art Fair (18th-21st), and finally, keep your eyes peeled for the next Turbine Hall installation at the Tate Modern – Tania Bruguera’s piece offers a powerful response to the global migration crisis. Meanwhile, a whole host of London art exhibits are ending soon; catch them before they’re gone!
27-30. Get hella autumnal
London is never quite so beautiful as it is in autumn, so embrace the season! Put on a scarf and enjoy one of London’s best hot chocolates. Settle in for a pint in one of the oldest pubs in London. Take an autumn walk through the city. And don’t forget to Instagram the hell out of it, obviously!
31-40. Join the crowds at one of these top gigs
Another big month for gigs kicks off with the inimitable Shania Twain, taking over the O2 Arena on October 2nd. Greenwich is further spoiled with the arrival of Enrique Iglesias (19th) and U2 (23rd) later in the month. Out in Hammersmith, the Apollo will host the Black Eyed Peas (27th) and Spandau Ballet (29th), whilst soulful sisters First Aid Kit head to the O2 in Brixton on the 31st. MNEK plays Scala on the 11th, Sophie Ellis-Bextor will fill the Royal Festival Hall in Lambeth (3rd), and 90s legend DJ Jazzy Jeff brings the nostalgia to Electric Brixton (12th). Finally, everyone’s favourite Finnish hard rock monsters-turned Eurovision winners will visit The Garage in Highbury (21st) – it can only be Lordi…
41-47. See some incredible new films
A whole host of big releases are hitting London cinemas this month, with the hotly-anticipated A Star Is Born and dark Marvel flick Venom first to arrive (both 3rd). Damien Chazelle follows up La La Land with First Man, his biopic of Neil Armstrong, and you can expect Bad Times at the El Royale too (both 12th). Rami Malek steps into the shoes of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (24th), and Jaime Lee Curtis prepares for a final confrontation with Michael Myers in Halloween (19th). Oh, and don’t forget that a whole load of films and TV series arrived on Netflix this month!
48-73. Keep on exploring the city
We’ve been on a comparative tear this month, uncovering a load more interesting places to visit. Here, check ’em out!
?MOTH Club: glitzy space for all kinds of riotous entertainment
?Papersmiths: cutesy stationery shop with a penchant for patterns
?Hackney City Farm: top spot to make animal friends
?Bustronome: gourmet dining on a London bus tour
✉️Postal Museum: check out the cute underground railway
?Proceed Clockwise: UK’s biggest boardgame cafe
?Chislehurst Caves: incredible subterranean network
?Pleesecakes: jaw-dropping cheesecake creations
?Kensal Green Cemetery: wonderful Victorian graveyard
?Blame Gloria: ravishing retro cocktail spot
?♂️Hoxton Street Monster Supplies: supplies for monsters (obviously)
?Crystal Palace Park: giant dinosaurs mean this isn’t your average park
More things to do inspiration…
Featured image: Robin Wylie
Also published on Medium.