September, I will be happy to see you. You’re the month of new beginnings and old traditions. Children go back to school with buffed shoes and new satchels, and parents breathe a sigh of relief. You’re the harvest month with blackberry-picking on Hampstead Heath and grape-plucking in Hampton Court Palace. With a bit of luck, you might even let us bask in a balmy Indian summer.
The Proms in the Royal Albert Hall makes its final bow as the London Autumn Cultural Calendar kicks off, and I am ready. Here’s are my top things to do in London this September.
I’m kick-starting the month of September with Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Follies,’ a production I’ve been looking forward to all year. It’s directed by Dominic Cooke and stars Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer.
The iconic Weismann Theatre is about to be demolished in 1971 New York. A group of beautiful chorus girls come to say their goodbyes to what was their musical home between the two world wars. It’s a nostalgic, bittersweet story which includes Sondheim greats such as “Losing My Mind” and “Could I Leave You?”
Bring a picnic and enjoy the prettiest waterways in London with GoBoat, a self-drive, powered boating experience through the canal waters of Paddington, Little Venice and Camden Lock. More on this on a post in September!
The Great Vine at Hampton Court Palace
It’s time to pick grapes! The Hampton Court Great Vine was planted by Capability Brown in 1768 and is now 4 metres wide and over 36 metres tall. With an average annual crop of 272 kilos, the 240-year-old vine is ready to be plucked.
The London Design Festival
Now in its 15th year, the London Design Festival returns from the 16-24 September. The Victoria and Albert Museum will act as the festival’s hub, with dozens of other locations throughout the city. There are over 450 projects and events, most of which are free.
The Almeida theatre sell-out chronicling the rise of Rupert Murdoch and ‘The Sun’ newspaper transfers to the Duke of York from the 9th September. You can book here.
Lorna Luft – Chelsea Pheasantry
When your parents are Hollywood legends Judy Garland and producer Sidney Luft, and your big sis is singer Liza Minelli, chances are you’re also going stellar places. Lorna Luft’s television career started at the tender age of 11, but these days, she sings and writes books. Catch her at the Pizza Express Pheasantry on 8th and 9th September for some tunes from ‘The Great American Songbook,’ and for stories of the stage and screen.
Sir Simon Rattle at The Barbican
I can nearly hear a peal of bells in anticipation of Sir Simon Rattle’s inaugural concert at the Barbican on the 14 September. Batons at the ready, the London Symphony Orchestra’s new Music Director is finally in the house, and there’s a 10-day celebration to commemorate the event.
The inaugural concert will be relayed to a big screen in the Barbican Sculpture Court for a silent “musical-cinema” experience. The audience will listen to the concert through headphones. You can also catch it on a live broadcast on BBC3.
History of Hot Chocolate at the Chocolate Museum
This is my perfect sort of Sunday: hot chocolate with a sprinkling of history. The Chocolate Museum, as part of the Lambeth Heritage Festival, is holding a talk on the History of Hot Chocolate, exploring the works of physicians and historians since the 17th century and discussing the health benefits. Best of all, Jamaican hot chocolate will be served! Free, but you need to register. 24 September and on the 1 October.
Opera: Passion, Power and Politics at the V&A
The V & A, in partnership with the Royal Opera House, is taking us on an immersive journey through 400 years of opera. The exhibition will focus on seven opera premieres in seven cities, exploring how the social, political and artistic landscape influenced the history of opera. It includes over 300 objects including Salvador Dali’s costume design for ‘Salome; Music in the Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Manet’, and the original score of Verdi’s ‘Nabucco.’ Opens 30 September. You can book here.
START at the Saatchi
‘Not another art fair,’ I hear you groan. Yes, it is another art fair, but this is hosted by the Saatchi Gallery which always promises something more provocative and avant-garde than your average art show. The START fair, in its fourth year, will showcase young, emerging artists and galleries from around the world. From the 14 to 17 September.
Drawn in Colour: Degas at the National Gallery
Marking the centenary of Degas’ death, a group of 20 pastels, rarely seen in public and owned by the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, is making its debut at the National Gallery. From the 20 September 2017 to the 7 May 2018. Admission is free.
El Greco to Goya at the Wallace Collection
The Bowes Museum in County Durham is lending the Wallace Museum the largest collection of Spanish art in Britain, covering three centuries. The star attractions are, you guessed it, Goya and El Greco. On from 27 September 2016 to 7 January 2018. Admission is free.