70+ Spectacular Things To Do In London This Month: September 2023

September means Open House London! Photo: Londonist

F1® ARCADE: Ready to unleash your inner World Champion? F1® Arcade is the first official Formula 1® experience of its kind, with 69 state-of-the-art simulators where rookies and elites alike can enjoy the thrill of high speed competition. In between races, you can refuel on world-class food and drink (the venue boasts a very glamorous cocktail bar), and take in incredible views of St Paul’s Cathedral. (sponsor)

CAPITAL CRIME: Richard Osman, Lousie Candlish, Dorothy Koomson, Kate Atkinson and Sally Wainwright are among the authors and writers on the impressive programme at Capital Crime, a crime and thriller-centric literary festival taking place at the Leonardo Royal Hotel near St Paul’s over the end of August and beginning of September. 31 August-2 September

MEATOPIA: Carnivores will be drooling as Meatopia takes over Tobacco Dock for four days of live cooking and exclusive dishes celebrating cooking over fire, plus a TAPtopia beer hall and live music to get the party swinging. 31 August-3 September

GDIF: Glowing swans, tightrope walking, and a full-size house submerged in the docks are all part of this year’s Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, a huge outdoor performing arts festival with 35+ events, most of which are free. 25 August-10 September

BACK TO HOGWARTS DAY: Every year on 1 September, Harry Potter fans gather at King’s Cross station to hear the once-a-year announcement of the Hogwarts Express departing from platform 9 ¾. Witches and wizards in full costume gather just before 11am for the countdown to the announcement. FREE, 1 September

Sliding Slope by Vloeistof is part of Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. Photo: Ben Nienhuis

PUB IN THE PARK: Making its final London stop this summer, Pub in the Park comes to Chiswick for three days of food, drink and live music. McFly, Ronan Keating, Hoosiers and Squeeze are bringing the tunes, with Tom Kerridge, Si King from the Hairy Bikers, and Andi Oliver among the chefs doing live demos. 1-3 September

BRENTFORD ART TRAIL: Over three days, the one-mile Brentford Art Trail takes you to 14 venues, where you can view the work of more than 70 artists, from painters to printmakers, hatmakers to ironworkers, ceramicists to sculptors. The theme of this year’s event is a celebration of water, marking the first year that Totally Thames (below) has come to the area. FREE, 1-3 September

TOTALLY THAMES: An annual celebration of London’s river, Totally Thames Festival returns for a month of tours and river cruises, music performances, talks, art installations, theatre shows and guided walks. It’s a huge programme, so we’ve selected a few highlights to help you plan your month. 1 September-1 October

CREEKSIDE FESTIVAL: Grassroots music station and event space AAJA launches brand new, multi-venue music festival Creekside Festival. It takes place across 10 independent music venues around Deptford, including Buster Mantis, Villages and Isla Ray. Creekside champions neighbourhood crews and DIY radio, with a line-up including Threads Radio, Cheeky Soundsystem and Rat Face Records. 2 September

BI PRIDE UK: The People’s Palace in Mile End hosts Bi Pride UK, a celebration for anyone who experiences attraction beyond gender. Expect two stages of live entertainment, a community hub, a book fair selling books by multisexual authors, food and drink stalls and more. FREE, 2 September

CAMBERWELL FAIR: It started in 1279 and ran until 1855, so it’s fair to say there’s a decent bit of history to Camberwell Fair. The event was restarted in 2015, and runs again this year, with live music and DJs, a market, mask-making workshops and other entertainment on Camberwell Green. FREE, 2 September

Villages in Deptford is one of the venues for the new Creekside Festival.

QUEEN’S PARK BOOK FESTIVAL: The annual Queen’s Park Book Festival is back, with more than 20 events across literature and comedy. Pick up cooking tips from Michael Roux, hear respected author Sebastian Faulks discussing his latest book, and local novelist Zadie Smith discussing her first historical novel. 2-3 September

CAMDEN INSPIRE: Celebrate the borough of Camden, both past and present, at Camden Inspire. This year’s festival has a theme of ‘storytelling’, with local artists, musicians, comedians, thought leaders and more hosting performances, talks and workshops across Buck Street and Stucley Place. 2-3 September

WEMBA’S DREAM: Head to Wembley Park for family-friendly festival and performance Wemba’s Dream, celebrating the Anglo-Saxon Wemba who founded the area, and everyone who has since journeyed to Brent to make it their home. Music, dance, poetry and carnival performances happen throughout the day, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra taking part. FREE, 3 September

THE BIG SEW OFF: Take part in 24-hour sewathon The Big Sew Off, raising money for mental health charity Mind. Though it’s hosted by the New Craft House in Hackney, you can join in virtually from anywhere in the world. 4 September

Camden Inspire is back. Image: Harvey Williams-Fairley

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: 200 tonnes of sand appear in Canary Wharf this month to create two full sized volleyball courts for Action For Kids Beach Volleyball, a charity fundraising pop-up. Courts can be booked out, so you can practise your skills, or hold a mini tournament with friends and family, or sign your team up for the corporate competition. 4-28 September

IAN NAIRN: 40 years after the death of architectural critic Ian Nairn, a new edition of his book, Modern Buildings in London, is published, with contributions by historian Travis Elborough. London Review Bookshop hosts Elborough in conversation with architectural historian Gillian Darley and architect Charles Holland, to discuss Nairn’s life and legacy. 5 September

WINE WALKS: Well, this sounds rather idyllic. Enjoy an evening of wine tasting in Kew Gardens, with tipples inspired by the gardens themselves. Sup a sparkling rosé and pinot noir in the Rose Garden, Italian wines in the Mediterranean Garden, and tropical New World wines in the Temperate House, finishing up with a classic Bordeaux at the Pavilion, where you can also tuck into a cheese and charcuterie board. 6 September

Wemba’s Dream returns to Wembley Park. Image credit: Chris Winter / Wembley Park

DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL: Open City Documentary Festival is a celebration of non-fiction cinema in London, organised in conjunction with UCL and taking place at various locations around the capital. As well as films screenings, this year’s programme includes mentoring and networking sessions, and talks by artists. 6-12 September

OPEN HOUSE LONDON: It’s the most wonderful time of year! All manner of London buildings and structures, which are usually off-limits to the public, fling their doors open and welcome us in for Open House London. Our previous highlights include going inside the St Pancras clock tower, and on the roof of 55 Broadway. 6-17 September

SIR RANULPH FIENNES: Explorer and writer Sir Ranulph Fiennes swaps mountains for the hills of north London, heading up to Alexandra Palace for the latest stop in his touring live show, Mad, Bad and Dangerous. Hear him talk about his adventures, from school misdemeanours, to his time in the military and beyond, including circumnavigating the globe, losing fingers to frostbite, and learning a few lessons along the way. 7 September

Empire Live is one of the show at the London Podcast Festival. Image: Viktor E

LONDON PODCAST FESTIVAL: Headphones at the ready for London Podcast Festival at Kings Place, which sees both mainstream and niche podcasts filmed in front of a live audience, with some of the recordings streamed online too. Drunk Women Solving Crime, No Such Thing As A Fish, and the Empire Film Podcast are some of the big name shows, along with offerings on comedy, food and politics.7-17 September

MARKFIELD ROAD FESTIVAL: Taking place in South Tottenham, Markfield Road Festival is a free arts and music festival for all ages. Visit open arts studios, watch short films screenings and live music performances, take part in workshops including life drawing, watch a carnival procession featuring local school children, and let your kids enjoy bouncy castles and face painting. FREE ENTRY, 8-10 September

HERITAGE OPEN DAYS: Free rides on 1950/60s London buses feature as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days. The programme of events opens up everything from lesser-known museums, to old factories, to music halls to the public, showcasing a slew of cultural nooks and crannies that may have escaped your attention. 8-17 September

THE FATHER AND THE ASSASSIN: The National Theatre opens a production of The Father and the Assassin by Anupama Chandrasekhar. The play explores oppression and extremism by following 30 years of the life of Nathuram Godse, the journalist and nationalist who went on to murder Mahatma Ghandi. 8 September-14 October

The Markfield Road Festival provides free entertainment in South Tottenham.

CLASSIC BOAT FESTIVAL: All manner of vintage vessels moor up at St Katharine Docks (next to the Tower of London) for the Classic Boat Festival. Even if you don’t know your port from your starboard, it’s a fascinating spectacle, with around 40 preserved vessels on display, including Dunkirk Little Ships. FREE, 9 September

CAMDEN MUSIC FESTIVAL: To celebrate the expansion of Camden’s Music Walk of Fame with the addition of 11 more plaques, the inaugural Camden Music Festival takes place on Hawley Crescent and Camden High Street. It’s an all-dayer featuring free performances from Jazzie B (Founder of Soul II Soul) and Rusty Egan (Blitz Music Machine). 9 September

ZIPWIRE: If you find yourself in the City over the weekend of 9-10 September, don’t be surprised if you hear a few screams from above. The London Landmarks Skyscraper Challenge has participants running up 42 floors of the Cheesegrater before making their way back down to earth either by abseiling, or by zipwiring to the neighbouring Gherkin. At time of writing, zipwiring places have sold out, but the stair run and abseil is still available. 9-10 September

THE HOME OF FOOD: Lord’s Cricket Ground launches a brand new food festival, The Home of Food by chef Tommy Banks, with food trucks and well-known chefs serving up dishes all weekend. Richard Corrigan, Selin Kiazim, Gareth Ward, Lisa Goodwin Allen and Aktar Islam are among the chefs and restaurateurs taking part, and entertainment includes cricket taster session and cooking lessons for children, and behind the scenes tours of the cricket ground by expert guides. 9-10 September

Chef Tommy Banks launches a new food festival at Lord’s.

CONSERVATORY ART: Barbican’s Conservatory unveils a new site-specific commission by Indian sculptor Ranjani Shettar. Cloud songs on the horizon features large-scale suspended sculptures across the entirety of the Conservatory, made from wood, stainless steel, muslin and lacquer, using techniques adapted from traditional Indian crafts. From 10 September

LONDON POLE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Pole dancing competition the London Pole Championships takes place at Artsdepot in North Finchley. Watch shows of musicality, strength, stamina and flexibility, and see who will be crowned the winner in each category, including beginners and doubles. 10 September

SARA PASCOE: Comedian Sara Pascoe publishes her debut fiction novel, Weirdo, this month, and there’s a special launch event at Conway Hall. Hear Pascoe discussing the book, and collect an exclusive edition, included in your ticket. 11 September

SUCCESSION: Fan of TV show Succession? Southbank Centre hosts an evening with the show’s writers, Tony Roche, Jon Brown, Lucy Prebble and Georgia Pritchett, in a conversation hosted by creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong. Find out about different directions the show could have taken with alternative dialogue and character plots. 13 September

Catch Myra Dubois at Sadler’s Wells.

MYRA DUBOIS: Following a turn at Edinburgh Fringe, comedy drag act Myra Dubois brings a short run of UK tour Be Well to Sadler’s Wells, offering a sardonic side-eye at the wellness industry with her acid tongue and quick wit. 13-16 September

GREENWICH COMEDY FESTIVAL: Phil Wang, Chloe Petts, Sophie Duker, Jen Brister and Stephen K Amos are among the headliners at Greenwich Comedy Festival, taking place in a seated arena in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum. Arrive early to make the most of the pop-up bars and street food stalls running alongside the festival. 13-17 September

DEATH OF ENGLAND: Jo Martin (Doctor Who) and Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake) appear on stage together in Death of England: Closing Time at National Theatre, a play about a family grieving the loss of their family shop and their dreams, while left to pick up the pieces of their relatives’ mistakes. 13 September-11 November

Murugiah unveils a new artwork in Greenwich Peninsula.

MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY: Marking the anniversary of Spain retreating and recognising Mexico as a country in its own right, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on 16 September each year. Rich Mix starts the celebrations early with live music and performances from Mexican artists, including 9-piece cumbia band Kumbia Boruka. 15 September

PECKHAM FESTIVAL: Galleries, former factories, warehouses, multi-storey car parks and railway arches are all venues for Peckham Festival, a free celebration of creative and cultural SE15. FREE, 15-17 September

DIWALI INSTALLATION: Ahead of Diwali in November, Greenwich Peninsula unveils an artwork by graphic artist Murugiah as part of London Design Festival. Rangoli Mirrored Cosmos is inspired by the traditional Rangoli artform, and takes the form of a 3D mirrored sculpture exploring the artist’s juxtapositions of his Western Birth and upbringing with his South Asian heritage. Find it in Peninsula Square, where it’ll be in situ for a year. FREE, from 16 September

ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHY: Shortly after last year’s show closes, the new Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, showcasing the greatest space photography taken in the past year, with one picture declared the overall winner. From 16 September

Björk at the 73rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday March 25, 2001 , wearing swan dress by KTZ N EWGEN designer . Wally Skalij/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images. The dress features in REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion at the Design Museum.

REBEL FASHION: Björk’s iconic swan dress, worn at the 2001 Oscars, is one of the centrepieces of REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion, a new exhibition at the Design Museum, which opens to coincides with London Fashion Week. Items worn by Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Rihanna and Kate Moss also feature in the show, which highlights London’s unique fashion culture on the world stage. From 16 September

CHANEL EXHIBITION: The middle of September is a double whammy for fashion fans, as the V&A opens its much-awaited exhibition, Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto. Get an insight into the life and work of the French couturière known as ‘Coco’, who founded the House of Chanel and continues to influence the way women dress today. From 16 September

LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: The 21st edition of London Design Festival continues its aim of showcasing London as the design capital of the world. At time of writing, the programme has yet to be announced, but we’re expecting the usual blend of displays and exhibitions, talks and more. 16-24 September

OLD FRIENDS: Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends opens for a 16-week run at the Gielgud Theatre. It brings American actress Bernadette Peters to the West End stage for the first time in her career, along with Lea Salonga, Bonnie Langford and and Jeremy Secomb, among others — all honouring the late musical theatre composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. 16 September-January 2024

The V&A opens an exhibition about Chanel. Image: Marie-Hélène Arnaud in a tweed suit from Chanel’s Fall-Winter 1959 collection and Chanel shoes, carrying the 2.55 Chanel handbag. © CHANEL / All Rights Reserved

THE TWIGGY MUSICAL: Fashion model Twiggy is the subject of the latest new musical in the West End. The Twiggy Musical charts her rise to fame from childhood in Neasden to young woman facing snobbery and sexism, to national treasure. It’s written and directed by Ben Elton. 18 September-18 November

DAWN FRENCH: Comedian and actor Dawn French takes over the London Palladium for four nights this month (plus two next month), performing her show Dawn French is a Huge Twat. She shares stories of the most embarrassing mishaps and misunderstandings that have happened to her throughout her life and career. 21-24 September

THE MISSING THREAD: Yet another fashion exhibition opening this month is The Missing Thread at Somerset House, which covers the untold stories of Black British fashion. It charts the shifting landscape of Black British culture from the 1970s to the present day, and the unique contribution it has made to design history, with music, photography, art and design covered, in addition to catwalk fashion. 21 September-7 January

FLOWER FESTIVAL: British-grown flowers, foam-free sustainable floristry, and the creativity of the UK-based floral designers are all celebrated at the Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival. Take tours of the festival led by curators, take part in tablescape, hand-tied bouquet or floral crown masterclasses, or simply enjoy the beauty of the house adorned with flowers. 22-24 September

DEPTFORD X: The 25th anniversary edition of arts festival Deptford X includes a commemorative exhibition and publication as well as commissions by six artists. Over 100 artists are involved in the Deptford X Fringe too, with open studios, talks and workshops, and a community parade. 22 September-1 October

The Missing Thread opens at Somerset House. Image: Martine Rose SS22 Lookbook shot by Rosie Marks and styled by Tamara Rothstein

MODEL RAILWAY SHOW: Choo choo! All aboard to Whitewebbs Museum in Enfield, where a model railway show takes place. View 15+ layouts created by the Enfield Whitewebbs Railway Modellers, and buy and trade pieces of kit you need for your own layouts, with children’s activities to keep little ones entertained. 23 September

MARY BEARD: Classicist and historian Mary Beard talks Roman emperors in a special evening at Barbican. From Julius Caesar to Alexander Severus, learn what’s fact and what’s fiction about the legendary rulers, and get an insight into their everyday lives. 23 September

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN: Claiming to be the world’s largest music and philosophy festival, HowTheLightGetsIn returns to Kenwood House. Ruby Wax, David Baddiel, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart are confirmed as speakers this year, with music performances by Badly Drawn Boy, Walt Disco and Saffiyah, among others. 23-24 September

SHEEP DRIVE: One of London’s wackiest annual events is the Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. Each year, a chosen celebrity has the honour of herding sheep over Southwark Bridge — keep an eye on the website for this year’s announcement. FREE, 24 September

Band of the Scots Guards at the Chelsea Physic Garden during Chelsea History Festival. Copyright James McCauley

HARVEST FESTIVAL: The London Pearly Kings and Queens Society holds a harvest festival in Guildhall Yard, with live entertainment. FREE, 24 September

CHELSEA HISTORY FESTIVAL: The National Army Museum, the Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Physic Garden team up again for this year’s Chelsea History Festival, which covers local, national and global history. This year includes special events marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren, as well as punk and movie-themed tours of Chelsea, and the chance to hear from Sir Michael Palin about his latest book. 26 September-1 October

STAMPEX: Taking place at Islington’s Business Design Centre, Stampex is a collectibles event, with focus mainly on stamps, run by  The Philatelic Traders’ Society. It’s a chance to meet and trade with other collectors and learn from experts… and this year, the world’s rarest stamp is on show. 27-30 September

RUBENS & WOMEN: Dulwich Picture Gallery shows a different side to Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens in new exhibition Rubens & Women. View paintings and drawings from throughout his career demonstrating how his relationships with women — from family members to female patrons — inspired his creativity and career. 27 September-28 January

IMMERSIVE MONET: French Impressionist painter Claude Monet is the latest to get the immersive art experience treatment. The Boiler House on Brick Lane immerses visitors in Monet’s works, as well as re-creations of his creative atelier and his luscious gardens at Giverny. From 28 September

BRITISH ART FAIR: The 32nd edition of British Art Fair takes place at Chelsea’s Saatchi Gallery, showcasing Modern British and Contemporary British Art, with 70+ exhibitors. Additionally this year, the fair includes a special exhibition, Crossing Borders: Internationalism in Modern British Art. 28 September-1 October

EMAIL IS DEAD: Intuit Mailchimp teams up with the Design Museum for a new display looking at how email will shape our future in an age of AI, and new methods of connecting online. What will email look like in the year 2070… if it still exists at all? FREE, 28 September-22 October

The Imperial War Museum opens a major exhibition about spies. Image: © IWM (EPH 178) A box of matches containing one match specially adapted for writing secret messages used during the second world war.

BOY’S DRESS: Leading fashion historian Amy de la Haye and renowned expert collector Alasdair Peebles teamed up to curate the Fashion & Textile Museum’s new exhibition, Oh Boy! Boy’s Dress 1760-1930. The first three months of the exhibition focuses on how, aged six, boys would abandon dresses in favour of breeches, with a selection of historic garments on show. 29 September-3 March

SPIES: LIES AND DECEPTION: The Imperial War Museum unveils a major exhibition about the role, purpose and human cost of espionage, deceit and misdirection, from the first world war to the present day. 150 objects, including gadgets, official documents, art and newly digitised film and photography go on display, telling the stories of people whose actions changed the path of human conflicts. FREE, 29 September-14 April

CLASSIC CAR BOOT SALE: All manner of vintage vehicles park up at King’s Cross for the autumn edition of the Classic Car Boot Sale. Ogle the wheels, while buying vintage fashion from the back of them. Other entertainment includes clothing repair workshops, live DJs, and motorcycle and scooter ride-ins. 30 September-1 October

QUEER NATURE: Kew Gardens launches a brand new festival, Queer Nature, celebrating the diversity and beauty of plants and fungi. View new art installations, hear from Kew scientists, horticulturists, and writers on their individual perspectives on queerness and nature, and book ahead for themed After Hours events. 30 September-29 October

OUTDOOR CINEMA: As summer winds down, so does London’s outdoor cinema season, with Rooftop Film Club and The Luna Cinema among those having a last hurrah this month. Fear not though — it won’t be long until you’re snuggled under a blanket with a mulled wine and mince pie watching Elf or Love Actually…

LAST CHANCE: A few things are closing this month too. It’s your last chance to go to:

Time’s running out to see Ain’t Too Proud. Image: Johan Persson

WIZARD OF OZ: We’re off to see the Wizard… but only until early September when the current production of the Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium — starring Jason Manford as the cowardly lion — ends. Until 3 September

BBC PROMS: The Last Night of the Proms falls on 9 September this year, which gives you nine days of musical goodness to enjoy this month before then. Shows include Chineke! (Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra) performing pieces by Beethoven and Haydn, as well as BAME composers Valerie Coleman, and Croydon legend Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Until 9 September

ASHISH: 60+ works by fashion designer Ashish Gupta are on show at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, including a major new commission. FREE, until 10 September

ANDY WARHOL: We were huge fans of Andy Warhol: The Textiles at Fashion & Textile Museum, which shines a light on the pop artist’s lesser-known work designing and printing textiles. Some fantastic original items of clothing and pieces of fabric on show, dating back to the 1950s-60s. Until 10 September

Got Milk? Wellcome collection does, but not for much longer. Copyright Wellcome Collection

MILK: Wellcome Collection has turned its gaze to how the science and marketing of milk is woven into our cultural history, from ‘breast is best’ to the advertising of milk’s nutritional value, and whether milk moustaches will become a thing of the past. FREE, until 10 September

BERTHE MORISOT: Time’s running out to see the first major UK exhibition of trailblazing Impressionist Berthe Morisot since 1950. Dulwich Picture Gallery brings together around 30 of her pieces to show her as an influential figure of the Impressionist movement. Until 10 September

BOWIE AND BEYOND: Find out about David Bowie’s connections to the Kingston music scene in exhibition Bowie and Beyond: Ziggy Stardust at Kingston Museum — he launched his Ziggy persona at Tolworth local pub Toby Jug in February 1972. Until 16 September

AIN’T TOO PROUD: Following the remarkable journey of Motown group The Temptations from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, musical Ain’t Too Proud ends its run at the Prince Edward Theatre. Until 17 September

THE OFFBEAT SARI: The Offbeat Sari at the Design Museum looks at the multiple definitions of the modern Sari — worn by some as an everyday garment, and others only for more formal occasions — and how its unstitched form has allowed designers to experiment with it over the years. Until 17 September

PUNCHDRUNK: Immersive theatre legends Punchdrunk bring to a close their current production, The Burnt City — the first London show for several years. The whole point of Punchdrunk shows is that there’s no fixed narrative: you’re invited to roam wherever you like, to follow characters and explore spaces at your whim. Until 24 September

SHAKESPEARE’S FIRST FOLIO: This year marks 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, something the National Maritime Museum celebrated with exhibition The Tempest and the Thames, displaying one of only 50 known copies of the First Folio and exploring the connections between Shakespeare and the sea. Until 24 September

THE ARTISTIC HOME: And finally! In one of the V&A’s smaller rooms, The Artistic Home showcases work by British art potteries and their artists, many of them women, who painted and decorated wares by hand in the late 1800s. Until 25 September

Leave a Comment

Subscribe Now and get 5% discount on your first Booking