As the country prepares to go sober for October (seriously, do we have to this year?) now more than ever is the time to get some culture-quenching goodies into that diary. Put down the pint glass, pick up a mug of hot cocoa instead, and let’s fall together into the start of my favourite time of year. Here’s your guide to the best events and things to do this October in London.
Things to do this October in London.
Pick of the Month
Hooray! Artemisia finally opens after its six-month postponement thanks to you know what, and it’s a glorious sight to behold. The exhibition presents a highly selective survey of Artemisia Gentileschi’s career, bringing together around thirty of her works from both public institutions and private collections around the world. The majority of the loans in the exhibition have never been seen in the UK before. Book here.
Live Theatre and Performance
Don your masquerade, dress to the nines and immerse yourself in this immersive adaption of F Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal tale of the Roaring Twenties. Re-imagined and re-set to meet Covid-19 secure guidelines, the champagne still flows with the Great Gatsby Immersive London, re-opening on October 1. Here’s my review when I jitterbugged there earlier this year.
If you missed Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads on the BBC during lockdown, never fret. You can enjoy them in the flesh at the Bridge Theatre with a socially distanced run. The standalone monologues include performances by Imelda Staunton, Lucian Msamati, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas and Tasmin Greig. Book here.
St John’s Smith Square is welcoming audiences back to enjoy live performances this Autumn. Between now and the end of 2020, a programme of 63 public concerts and 50 digital events are planned. The October programme includes a wide range of orchestral and chamber music along with solo recitals. Book here.
St Paul’s Cathedral is having its first in-person concert since lockdown on Friday 23rd October 2020. Presented by the City Music Foundation, the artists will be performing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Free, but you need to book here.
The National Theatre re-opens it’s post-lockdown doors with Death of England Delroy. The Olivier Theatre has been re-designed to allow for physically-distanced seating. Book here.
Museums and Galleries
Art is everywhere this month as the capital sees the launch of Mayfair Art Weekend, Frieze Sculpture in Regent’s Park and London Craft Week.
Art group Alice in Hackneyland draws on 300 years of history of Twickenham’s glorious Octagon Room, establishing an artistic dialogue between Baroque and contemporary art. They will be creating a mesmerising, immersive sculptural tableau through use of colour and illusion. 13 October to 21 March 2021. More information here.
The Summer Exhibition (or the Winter Exhibition as it has been temporarily re-named), opens on the 6 October at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Kensington and Chelsea Art Week is back from 1-11 October 2020. Eleven days of public art festivities have been developed with a diverse programme of events, talks, highlights, installations and exhibits taking place throughout the Royal Borough. More information here.
Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year is an annual exhibition at the National Maritime Museum which showcases the world’s greatest space photography. On from 23 October to 8 August 2021. Book tickets here.
The National Gallery is hosting the UK’s first exhibition exploring Sin in art, bringing together paintings from the gallery’s collection as well as loans from important private and public collections. Expect to see works by Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin, and Ron Mueck. Opens 7 October. Book here.
A landmark exhibition will bring together major works by J.M.W Turner from Tate and other collections, showing how he transformed the way he painted to better capture the new world of the industrial revolution. Turner’s Modern World opens on 28 October. Book here.
The contemporary artist Bruce Nauman lands at Tate Modern on 7 October. The exhibition will allow visitors to engage with the artist’s universe through immersive installations with a strong emphasis on sound and moving image, as well as poetic sculptures and neon pieces. Book here.
Alias Trate’s Zeus’ Bastards will feature a series of evocative, large-scale oil-on-canvas works, which explore the dialectical tensions between Apollonian virtue and Dionysian vice. On at 15 Bateman Street, Soho, London, W1D 3AQ from 1 to 3 October.
This Black History Month, the Old Royal Naval College will delve into its rich and complex past, shining a light on the Black mariners that played a crucial role in its history. Their new exhibition, Black Greenwich Pensioners explores the hidden histories of the Black Royal Navy personnel who formed one of Britain’s earliest black communities. From 3 October to 21 February 2021. More information here.
Join the Royal School of Needlework’s Amy Hare to see some rare and wonderful pieces from the archives in a series of four one-hour object-focussed talks followed by Q&A sessions. Easily accessed via Zoom, the online talks will shed light on how these objects demonstrate a lived experience of the past and consider how they can be used and preserved for generations to come. More information here.
An online exhibition at the William Morris Society explores Islamic Art and its influence on British arts & crafts. It features original work by researcher and artist Dr Sara Choudhrey alongside works on paper from The William Morris Society’s collection and objects from The Emery Walker Trust collection. Islamic design is known to have inspired Morris, and he wrote of the stylistic perfection achieved by their craftsmen. See the exhibition here.
Historic Houses now open
- Soane Museum: London’s cabinet of curiosities re-opens on the 1 October with an extension of the architectural exhibition, Langlands and Bell: Degress of Truth. More here.
- Strawberry Hill House: Horace Walpole’s Gothic masterpiece in Twickenham is perfect for a pre-Halloween visit. More here.
- Eltham Palace: a visit to this art deco gem should be on every Londoner’s list.
- Kenwood House: visit one of London’s architectural gems, and it’s free!
- Apsley House: once known as No 1 London, this stunning Georgian home was the first Duke of Wellington’s capital pad. Book a visit here.
- Keats House, home of the Romantic poet, is now open. Book a visit here.
- Visit the house and apartment where Handel and Hendrix lived in Mayfair.
Out of Towners
This year, the Oxford Lieder Festival will present a thrilling and innovative programme comprising more than forty events over eight days streamed. At the heart of the festival will be a series of live-streamed concerts by international artists. Events will take place in locations throughout Oxford, including some of its great libraries, the Radcliffe Observatory, and the Huxley Room of the Museum of Natural History where the Huxley-Wilberforce Debate took place in the 19th century. In addition to the central Oxford locations, Broughton Castle and Rycote Chapel, both just outside Oxford, are also playing host to Oxford Lieder events for the first time. On from 10 to 17 October. Book for a concert or festival pass here.
Christmas at Waddesdon is back this November, and tickets will go fast. Enjoy the sparkling light trail around the spectacular gardens, have a spot of festive afternoon tea and shop for trinkets at the Christmas Fair. During the day, find Parallels, an immersive light installation in the Coach House at the Stables. From dusk, watch as the manor is bathed in colour and walk the light trail around the Pleasure Grounds. Book here.
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