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85 Rather Wonderful Things To Do In London In October 2021

Julie Freeman Julie Freeman - Staff Writer

october london

October heralds the start of autumn, and there are some wonderful things to do 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. Celebrate International Coffee Day (October 1)

I think we can all agree that coffee deserves its own day, and it just so happens to kick off the month of October. As it gets cooler and darker outside, there’s nothing better than to hunker down in a cosy coffee shop with a brew and a book, and these 53 independent London coffee shops are the perfect place to do so.

2. Celebrate London Cocktail Week (all month)

October is upon us, and that means it’s officially London Cocktail Month! That’s right, London Cocktail Week have extended their celebrations to the entire month, and we couldn’t be more excited. The world’s largest cocktail festival promises plenty of fun events, pop-ups, and exceptional drinks mixed by our city’s most talented bartenders. The best part? A £15 wristband will get you access to £7 signature cocktails at more than 275 bars across London — so wherever the night takes you, you’ll be able to celebrate with a cocktail nearby. Grab your wristband here. ⭐️ Sponsored ⭐️

3. Eat to your heart’s content at London’s chicken wing festival (October 1-3)

Chicken wings in abundance. That’s really all you need to know. Try over 50 unique flavour combinations for only £1 a portion at this saucy chicken wing festival that’s coming to London. Get messy as you compete with other wing lovers during WingJam’s legendary Hot Wing Eating Contest, then wash it all down with a cool beer or cocktail. Tickets to this wing wonderland can be found here.

4. Keep enjoying al fresco dining until it’s too cold outside

Diners sit at an outdoor table in the Carnaby and Soho outdoor dining space

Covent Garden’s massive outdoor dining scheme has become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood, with hundreds of outdoor seats and covers continuing to accommodate hungry Londoners from now on. Henrietta Street, Maiden Lane, parts of Southampton Street, and King Street will remain hot spots for outdoor dining. Read more here.

5. Dine at this gorgeous Japanese rooftop restaurant in the West End

Perched on the top floor of Regent Street’s former Dickins & Jones department store, Aqua Kyoto is a must-visit for lovers of Japanese cuisine. The rooftop restaurant is not only incredibly stylish — with gorgeous interiors and incredible views over London from their covered and heated terrace — it also offers one of the city’s most delicious dining experiences. Try unique styles of sushi and sashimi alongside contemporary robata grill and hot kitchen plates, all influenced by Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Autumn is celebrated as the season for bountiful tables and big appetites in Japan. To celebrate ‘Shokuyoku no Aki’, as the locals call it, Aqua Kyoto will introduce a selection of flavourful autumnal dishes. If you’re looking to go all out, Aqua Kyoto’s free-flowing weekend brunch comes with the option of bottomless cocktails and bubbles. And the newly launched vegan ‘Soba Weekend’ brunch menu is the perfect option for those laying off the alcohol this month — it’s the ultimate insta-worthy brunch, but without the hangover! Make your reservation here. ⭐️ Sponsored ⭐️

6. Get boozy at the UK’s largest gin and rum festival (October 1 & 2)

Hundreds of gins and rums all in one place? That sounds like a challenge. One we gladly accept. Make your way to St Mary’s Church and you’ll be greeted with a Copa glass, an event guide and a glass satchel, before embarking on a journey of gin and rum discovery. Get your tickets here.

7. Visit the world’s largest living plant collection

Image: Væksthusene, Aarhus C, Denmark, 24 September 2020

We’ve always known that Kew Gardens is a gorgeous place to visit, but now you have even more reason to head over there. They’ve just been recognised for boasting the “largest collection of living plants at a single-site botanic garden” in the world. Everybody bow down, and schedule your visit ASAP. Read more here.

Speaking of Kew Gardens…

8. Celebrate Japanese nature, art, and culture at Kew Gardens (from October 2)

Photo: Nicolas Lysandrou, Unsplash

Joining the line-up of autumn events in London is the wonderful Japan Festival over at Kew Gardens, which aims to celebrate the fascinating plants, art, and culture of Japan. Running from October 2 to 31, the festival will take over the Kew Gardens trail and Temperate House with colourful installations and performances. Read more here.

9. Say ‘Prost’ to Oktoberfest (all month)

Oktoberfest

The beeriest celebrations in all the land can be found in London, and we’ve handily rounded them up for your pleasure. From traditional German-style fests to Halloween-themed Oktoberfest parties, you’re sure to have a good time at these events. So get your lederhosen and dirndl ready and Prost to October!

10. Indulge in a delightful tropical brunch (October 2, 3 & 9)

Island vibes are exactly what we need to liven up a grey couple of weeks, and Cottons’ tropical bottomless brunch should do the trick. Hey, with dishes such as St Lucian omelette, Calypso chicken wrap, and the Yardie breakfast, it’d be hard not to smile. Tickets can be found here.

11. Jump-start your festive shopping at Liberty’s cute Christmas shop

Whether you’re in the market for carefully thought-out gifts or some gloriously quirky baubles, the Liberty Christmas shop can fulfil all your needs. It’s never too early to start your festive shopping, after all… Read all about it here.

12. Take your beau on a cutesy autumn date

Come rain, shine or pandemic, dates are a must, and we’re here to help. Chilly days and candlelit nights provide all the more reason to snuggle up with someone. Autumn is the season that sharpens the senses, warms the heart, and offers all sorts of adventures — so in the spirit of the season, here are our favourite autumn dates in London.

13. Immerse yourself in the world of film (October 6 – 17)

Photo: BFI

The magic of cinema is alive and well, as the BFI London Film Festival returns both in person and online this year. So if you’re not in London, you’ll still be able to access cinema at your fingertips, with plenty of virtual premieres and a whole host of online events and screenings. Find more info here.

14. Escape the city for a cosy autumn day trip

Autumn day trips

It’s good to escape the London bubble every once in a while, and that’s doubly true in autumn. The colours are brighter and the air is cleaner, so a countryside getaway is bound to be magical. With that in mind, we’ve picked out some great ways to escape the capital with these autumn day trips.

15. Take care of yourself on World Mental Health Day (October 10)

london eye yoga

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, and while our mental health should always be at the forefront, it’s a good time to sit back and reflect on how we’re currently feeling. Take some much-needed time for yourself, or call a friend who might be struggling. If you need a breather out in nature, here are 12 perfectly peaceful places in London to experience a rare moment of stillness. If you’re craving some yoga and meditation, you can book a relaxing session on the London Eye (provided you’re not afraid of heights!)

16. Enjoy a little jazz on the water (October 10)

October

More jazz, this time accompanied by the sound of waves gently lapping against London’s floating bar. Floating Jazz makes a welcome return this autumn, and with the nights drawing in, we can’t think of a better way to spend ’em. Tickets are available here.

17. Hop on the Orient Express for an ultra luxe getaway

The Orient Express gleams in the sunlight as it stands at a train station.

The luxury long-distance train is run by the travel company Belmond and is also known as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. It’ll whisk you away to Europe’s most glamorous cities, and has now added Rome, Florence, Geneva, Brussels, and Amsterdam to its available routes between March and November. It’s a bit pricey, but wait until you see the train’s suites—trust me, you’ll never want to set foot outside again. More info here.

18. Enjoy an epic weekend of art, music and tequila (October 14 – 17)

The Other Art Fair

Between October 14–17, The Other Art Fair returns to The Old Truman Brewery, showcasing works handpicked by an esteemed committee at Saatchi Art as some of the most forward-thinking, influential pieces of the moment. The fair will also play host to a sound bath experience, live DJ sets, podcast recordings, tattoo pop-ups, workshops, and tequila and tonic tasters to keep you entertained. Tickets are available here.

19. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition (from October 15)

Art exhibitions

Explore the stunning details of Michelangelo’s iconic work without having to travel to Italy, as LA-based SEE Global Entertainment (SEE™) use digital technology to bring one of mankind’s greatest artistic feats to life. Visitors will be able to experience the space from never-before-seen perspectives, making for a stunning spectacle. Grab your tickets here.

20. Unleash your inner powers at this superheroes-themed cocktail experience

Step into the Golden Age of comics at this interactive, superhero-themed cocktail experience. Armed with a mask and cape, guests can enter a world inspired by their favourite comic books and unleash their superpowers to create delicious cocktails and elixirs. Find your tickets here.

21. Get tipsy on bottomless Aperol Spritz at this three-course brunch

Camden’s new European brasserie will be hosting bottomless Aperol Spritz brunches from this month, and we *love* the sound of that! If you like the idea of sipping on unlimited Aperol Spritz while enjoying a three course brunch as much as we do… Tickets are available here.

22. Get a proper eyeful at the Boy Toy Brunch (October 16)

Boy Toy

From suits and ties to, erm, birthday suits. Those feeling especially thirsty are going to love the Boy Toy Brunch, for there’s one and a half hours of bottomless prosecco or mimosas to go with an endless parade of gorgeous shirtless men, performing stripteases and feats of daring. Unsurprisingly, tickets are flying out the door, so grab yours before they’re gone!

23. Be enchanted at this incredible Harry Potter-themed woodland trail experience (from October 19)

Forbidden forest experience

A woodland trail inspired by the Forbidden Forest from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series is set to open at Arley Hall & Gardens in Cheshire this month. Taking fans on a journey that will quite literally illuminate some of their favourite Forbidden Forest moments, the incredible experience makes for a perfect getaway if you’re looking to escape the city, just in time for Halloween! Get your tickets here.

24. Face your fears at Colab Theatre’s immersive horror experience (from October 20)

This brand new immersive horror experience will challenge your bravery as you plunge into the depths of an abandoned basement, scrabbling in search of the vital clues in order to save a life. Just in time for Halloween, this event will give you all the thrills and then some! Grab your tickets here.

25. Go rogue at London’s Beano exhibition (from October 21)

Somerset House will play host to an exhibition dedicated to the youthful mischief of the Beano, the world’s longest-running comic. All the usual suspects –  from Dennis the Menace to Gnasher to Minnie the Minx to the Bash Street Kids – are ready to make an appearance. The exhibition will run from October 21, 2021, to March 6, 2022, and you can read all about it here.

26. Lose yourself in books at a literary festival (October 21-31)

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 Elizabeth Day and Lauren Child mix with figures from the worlds of entertainment and academia, in what amounts to Glastonbury for literature lovers.

27. Enjoy the Natural History Museum’s dreamy ice rink one last time (from October 22)

Natural History Museum Ice Rink 2018

The Natural History Museum has recently announced the return of its last ever wintertime skating season. The dazzling ice rink is one of our favourite Christmas experiences, so we’re sad to see it go! It will be open from October 22, 2021 to January 16, 2022 this winter, so make sure to relish the magic of it one last time: After 16 years of skating fun, the space will soon be transformed into a biodiversity hub as part of the museum’s Urban Nature Project. Find more info here.

28. Explore London’s huge Banksy exhibition for a reduced price (until October 22)

Banksy

Currently pitched up in Covent Garden, London’s ‘The Art of Banksy’ exhibition is home to over 90 masterpieces by the elusive artist — the world’s largest collection of privately-owned Banksy art. Marvel at famous artworks such as ‘Girl And Balloon’ and ‘Flower Thrower, and discover some of his lesser-known work and limited-edition pieces at this mesmerising, exclusive gallery. For a limited time only, you can visit the exhibition for just £19.50 if you purchase your tickets through Fever and visit before October 22. Grab yours here!

29. Hang out with Earth’s mightiest heroes (October 22-24)

October

It is quite literally on like Comic Con this month, as MCM Comic Con rocks up at the ExCeL on the 22nd. It’s the largest convention of pop culture in the UK, with three days of panels, meet and greets, and cosplaying on offer. This year’s headliners remain a mystery, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be an unmissable event as per usual! Find out more here.

30. Hop on a train to Edinburgh for only £15 (from October 25)

london-edinburgh
Photo: Jörg Angeli, Unsplash

FirstGroup‘s new, 100% electric train service Lumo launches this month, with one-way tickets between London and Edinburgh starting at just £14.90. The service promises passengers budget- and environment-friendly rail fares in an effort to reduce air travel between the two capital cities. More info here.

31. Celebrate Halloween (October 31, but really, all month)

Things to do Halloween

As far as I’m concerned, spooky season lasts the whole month of October, so there’s plenty of opportunity to celebrate Halloween beyond October 31. From scary bottomless brunches to chilling immersive experiences, here are some of the best things you can do to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and all the eves leading up to it.

32. Wander amongst a sculpture garden (until October 31)

Regent’s Park sees a tonne of arty new arrivals, as Frieze Sculpture has taken up residence in the English Gardens for autumn 2021. Billed as “a museum without walls”, it’s always a highlight of the London art calendar – check out all the info here!

33. Discover some of London’s spookiest spots

Photo: Susan Q Yin, Unsplash

In this particular exploration game, you will play the role of a passionate historian on a mission to bring London’s ghoulish spirits to salvation. From Green Park, Mayfair and Bond Street, to the most haunted house in the city, you will be guided to some of the most frightful places in the city, following step-by-step instructions in order to solve clues. Get your tickets here.

34. Feel the thrills at this chilling Halloween candlelight concert (October 31)

Halloween Candlelight

Halloween is plenty creepy already, but when you add the iconic soundtracks of Psycho and the 1978 version of Halloween to proceedings, it’s only going to get eerier. Haunting, atmospheric, and hopefully without any errant ghouls or ghastly beasts, this Halloween candlelight concert is a brilliantly unique way to spend All Hallow’s Eve. And if you’re brave enough, you can find your tickets here

35. Travel back to the 50s at this Grease-themed bottomless brunch

Tonight Josephine’s Grease-themed bottomless brunch will make you nostalgic for warm Summer Nights! Enjoy a delicious brunch and Pink Ladies cocktail plus bottomless bubbles and beer while sassy Sandy and debaucherous Danny put on a fab drag show. Find your tickets here!

36. Get cosy around a campfire at London’s beer and BBQ joint

If you’ve ever felt the urge to plunge into the wilderness to live free and feast on wood-fired cooking every night, but aren’t quite ready to give up the London lifestyle just yet, here’s a compromise to keep you snug and well-fed this autumn. Tucked away in a freight container yard between Holloway and Kings Cross, you’ll find Campfire, an excellent open-air venue from Two Tribes Brewing. Enjoy delicious barbecue and beers around the fire pit and revel in the cool autumn evenings. Read more here.

37. Explore Harry Potter’s London

Photo: Aditya Vyas, Unsplash

This unique London adventure will take you to a number of filming locations from the magical franchise, as well as the thoroughfare that is thought to have inspired Diagon Alley. You’ll need to follow clues to discover said places and solve clues to score points in the game. Get your tickets here.

38. Save London from the Plague in this city exploration game

Photo: Questo

This game will send you back in time on a mission to stop the spread of the Great Plague. Follow the clues to uncover facts about the city’s deadliest pandemic, hear the story of the courageous Nathaniel Hodges, and learn all about the crazy remedies that Londoners tried to avoid getting infected. But that’s not all: you’ll also discover church ruins, fascinating churchyards, and many other hidden spots along the way. Get your tickets here.

39. Visit the Royal Academy’s delayed Summer Exhibition (all month)

Summer Exhibition

Summer may be over, but nonetheless one unmissable summer event has just kicked off, albeit a little late. For the second year running, the Royal Academy’s famous Summer Exhibition is falling in autumn. It’s the world’s largest open submission art show, showcasing a winning mix of amateur and professional creations. This year, it’s led by Yinka Shonibare and a panel of artists, under the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’. Read more here.

40-44. More art exhibitions opening in October:

👨‍🎨 The EY Exhibition: Cézanne, Tate Modern (from October 6): huge show dedicated to Paul Cézanne, French painter

🍷 Poussin and the Dance, National Gallery (from October 9): classical world paintings by Poussin

⚧️ Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi, Tate Modern (from October 12): art questioning migration, class, and gender

🏢 Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet, Royal Academy of Arts (from October 23): bringing new life and intrigue to striking buildings from around the world

🌪️ Late Constable, Royal Academy of Arts (from October 30): a look into Constable’s later career

45-51. Art exhibitions closing in October:

🍴 Cornelia Parker, Tate Britain (until October 16): art installation featuring sculptures made with everyday objects

🖌️ Milton Avery, Royal Academy of Arts (until October 16): Milton Avery’s first European show

🖼️ Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Tate Modern (until October 17): abstract art across a variety of fascinating disciplines

🏛️ Serpentine Pavilion 2021, Hyde Park (until October 17): annual Hyde Park installation

📸 James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective, The Serpentine (until October 22): works of a portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer in London and Ghana

👩 Paula Rego, Tate Britain (until October 24): revolutionising the way women are depicted in art

🏰 Bellotto: The Königstein Views Reunited, National Gallery (until October 31): Bernardo Bellotto’s paintings of Königstein

52-67. Explore these pretty places during autumn

autumn london
Richmond Park. Photo: Simon Wilkes, Unsplash

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 city’s oldest pubs, or take an autumn walk through the city. Here are some more beautiful places you should visit this season for gorgeous foliage and crisp air:

⛩️ Kyoto Garden: tranquil Japanese garden in Holland Park

🚞 Parkland Walk: tranquil walk that follows the route of an old railway line

🍃 Hampstead Pergola: ravishingly run-down terrace in London

🏰 Strawberry Hill House & Garden: London’s enchanting gothic castle

📚 Cecil Court: secret alley full of curious old bookshops

🌱 Petersham Nurseries: gorgeous garden centre perfect for a sunny day out

St. Dunstan in the East: ruined church which is now a beautiful city park

🌳 Walthamstow Wetlands: giant nature reserve that’s free to visit

🪦 Highgate Cemetery: beautiful graveyard that’s a stunning spot for a wander

🏰 Severndroog Castle: charming south London castle with incredible city views

🌲 6 enchanting forests and woodlands in and around London

🍂 111 lovely London parks and gardens to get you back to nature

🏘️ 7 picture perfect villages that are less than 2 hours from London

68-82. Discover London’s best new bars and restaurants

Goods Way

September brought some new arrivals, and so will October — here are some incredible new places we wrote about last month, which are well worth adding to your October bucket list for a good meal and drink!

🥩 Nusr-Et Steakhouse: Salt Bae’s new London restaurant

🍸 Booking Office 1869: ultra-swanky new restaurant and bar opening in King’s Cross

🍷 Porte Noire: Idris Elba’s new wine bar

🎷 Goods Way: New Orleans-inspired hangout for cocktails and live music

🍽️ Ganymede: new restaurant from the team behind Kensington’s ‘The Hunter’s Moon’

🇮🇳 Bandra Bhai: hidden, 1970s-themed Indian cocktail bar

🍹 Skylight Peckham: stylish new rooftop bar in south London

💀 The Corner Pin: Beavertown Brewery’s first proper pub

🎨 Lord Napier And Star: historic Hackney Wick graffiti pub, open after 26 years

🌳 Madera: the sky-high Mexican restaurant with the lush treehouse vibes

🥐 Criss Cross: café dedicated entirely to croissants

🍰 Whipped Brixton: independent spot serving cheesecake-inspired desserts

🍢 Hackney Bridge: giant new indoor dining and market hall

🍜 Supa Ya Ramen: cult ramen pop-up that’s gone permanent

🥑 Amsterdam’s famous avocado restaurant

83 – 85. More things to do inspiration…

😁 200 fab and FREE things to do in London

🚶‍♀️ The 500 best things to do in London

🍳 57 bottomless brunches in London that are brilliantly boozy


Also published on Medium.

Things To Do