London may be getting spruced up for Christmas, but we’ve still got a month to go before we descend into full-blown festive craziness. It’s time to banish the never-ending Brexit blues with some help from a culture-filled November in London. This month is all about the towering figures of art, history and legend with Leonardo, Tutankhamun and Troy taking centre stage. Oh and remember, remember, of course. What on earth would Guy Fawkes make of the endless fireworks going on in the Houses of Parliament right now? Let’s take a look at some cracking things to do in London in November.
Tutankhamun at the Saatchi Gallery
Possibly London’s most exciting exhibition this year, Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh will unveil more than 150 original objects from the Pharaoh’s tomb, 60 of which are travelling out of Egypt for the first and final time before they return for permanent display within the Grand Egyptian Museum. Exhibition highlights will include the coffinette and Tutankhamun’s funeral bed. 2 November to 3 May 2020. You can book here.
To accompany the exhibition, the Saatchi Gallery is welcoming two artists-in-residence, Cyril de Commarque and Kate Daudy who will be inviting the viewer to contemplate the key themes of the exhibition.
Cosi Fan Tutti at Cadogan Hall
Following their critically acclaimed concert performances of ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ and ‘Don Giovanni’ at Cadogan Hall, Ian Page and Classical Opera bring their trademark dynamism, insight and dramatic flair to Mozart’s third and final masterpiece written in collaboration with Lorenzo da Ponte. The cast is headed by the Swiss-Romanian soprano Ana Maria Labin as Fiordiligi and German baritone Benjamin Appl as Guglielmo, joining Page’s dynamic period-instrument orchestra. Playing on 6 November only. Book here.
Leonardo at the National Gallery
From the 9 November, the ground floor galleries of the National Gallery will be completely transformed into a space that investigates ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ and the inventive mind that created it. Visitors will be able to step inside a similar chapel setting and see what art historical research suggests the painting’s setting may have looked like. They will be able to explore Leonardo da Vinci’s own research, which informed the specific compositions in the painting. In addition, they will see how Leonardo used his scientific studies to create strong effects of light and shadow in his painting. Book here. To 12 January 2020.
George IV at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
The king responsible for turning Buckingham Palace into a house, remodelling Windsor Castle, building the Royal Pavilion at Brighton as well as London’s own Regent Street and The Regent’s Park, is getting his own exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery this autumn. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, and a period of unprecedented global exploration, George IV: Art & Spectacle considers the Monarch’s public image, taste for the theatrical and exotic, admiration of French style and all-consuming passion for collecting. It will present George as a man of extreme contrasts: on the one hand, a recklessly profligate showman, and on the other, a connoisseur with intellectual interests whose endless acquisitions made him one of the most important figures in the formation of the Royal Collection. 15 November to 3 May 2020.
Kitty Clive at the Foundling Museum
Discover the story of Kitty Clive the Georgian singer, actress, writer and activist and hear live performances of the songs she made famous. Music historian Berta Joncus shares research from her new book which reveals Clive’s incredible journey from humble beginnings to stardom, and how, as a campaigner and role model, she created lasting transformations in the world of Georgian show business. 15 November. Free but booking essential here.
Vagina Museum opens in Camden Market
The world’s first vagina museum opens in London’s Camden Market with a taboo-busting first exhibition, Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them. It raised £50,000 from a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year and is now the world’s first museum space dedicated to the female gynaecological anatomy. Opens 16 November. Free entry (pardon the pun).
Dora Maar at the Tate Modern
Tate Modern resents the first UK retrospective of the work of Dora Maar whose provocative photographs and photomontages became celebrated icons of surrealism. Featuring over 200 works from a career spanning more than six decades, this exhibition shows how Maar’s eye for the unusual also translated to her commercial commissions, social documentary photographs, and paintings. From 20 November to 15 March 2020.
Troy at the British Museum
The first major exhibition about Troy in the UK will reveal the lasting legacy of stories from the Trojan War, first told by early poets such as Homer and Virgil and retold and reinterpreted right up to the present day. Following in the footsteps of the archaeologists and adventurers who sought to prove the reality of ancient Troy, this exhibition will showcase the discoveries made by Heinrich Schliemann in Turkey in the 1870s which changed the perception of this epic tale forever. From the Trojan horse to Troilus and Cressida, and Hollywood films and contemporary art, this exhibition will tell the stories of Troy that have fascinated and inspired people for more than 3,000 years. Book here. From 21 November to 8 March 2020.
Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre
James McAvoy hits the London stage with Jamie Lloyd’s latest, Cyrano de Bergerac. The last time these two collaborated in ‘Macbeth’, I got the never-ending giggles – well, let’s just say I wasn’t a fan. There’s nudity and swearing in ‘Cyrano,’ two of my favourite things, so I promise to go into this with a clean slate and to revert back later this month with a review. In the interim, you can book tickets here, but be quick as these are selling fast. 27 November to 29 February 2020.
Amelie the Musical
Starring French-Canadian stage and screen star Audrey Brisson as ‘Amélie Poulain’, this beloved Parisian story of the shy girl with a gift for helping others transfers to the West End on the 29 November. Book here. On until 1 February 2020.
London Jazz Festival
It’s London Jazz Festival this November so get booking with The 606 Club in Chelsea, one of London’s oldest independent live music venues which has been presenting jazz, soul, R&B, blues and Latin music since 1976. More here.
Chelsea Rare Book Fair
Held each autumn in the beautiful and historic Chelsea Old Town Hall, this 29th edition of the Fair brings together more than 80 exhibitors specialising in rare books, first editions, maps, prints, manuscripts and ephemera from all over the world. Tickets are free but you need to pre-register here.
Tried and Tested: Body Worlds London
Not for the faint-hearted, Body Worlds is a museum dedicated to the human body – inside and out. I went in expecting a bit of a Horniman Museum on steroids but I’m not sure the Victorians, even with their blood-thirsty ways, could have quite handled the naked truth of Body Worlds.
Th exhibition is a full blown, three-dimensional dissection of man. The secret to the human body and the sum of its parts is displayed through the technique of plastination, the process of preserving cells by replacing fat and water with advanced plastics.
You’ll learn that we pump 7000 litres of blood around the body each day and that the heart contracts 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime. You will see evidence of how humans produce a whole new layer of skin every three weeks (yes, that’s 17 dermal “suits” every year). You’ll gaze with sadness at an unborn 5-month-old foetus still in its mother’s uterus. And you’ll see a couple having full-blown sex (you might want to bypass this section with the under 12s).
If you’ve ever wondered what the human body actually looks like beneath that birthday suit – the brain, the nervous system, the liver (don’t remind me please), together with every muscle and sinew, then this fascinating and educational insight into the art and science of the human form is one for you. Book here.