Last updated on September 22nd, 2021 at 08:53 am
Wondering what to do this September in London? You might need to wrap up a little warmer, unpack that autumn wardrobe and get ready, steady go for getting the kids back to school, but there are plenty of September goings on in London town too. Here’s a roundup of some of the best things to do in London this September 2021.
It’s the Open House time of year again, when you get to have a snoop around some of London’s quirkiest, secret places. Check out Katie of Look up London’s round-up of some of the best places to visit which don’t need a booking. 4 to 12 September.
If you can’t make it to Open House, you could try Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture. 10 to 19 September.
If it’s an intellectual challenge you’re after, head over to Kenwood House and the FT Weekend Festival. It features a stellar line-up which includes Ian McEwan, Sarah Gilbert (of Oxford AstraZeneca fame) John Major, Wayne McGregor and Simon Schama. 4 September. Book your pass here.
Also at Kenwood House is HowTheLightGetsIn September 2021, a festival that combines critical thinking and challenging debate with diverse music and vibrant culture. It’s the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, bringing together internationally respected thinkers and a medley of musicians, performers and artists. Book tickets here.
Head over to the Museum of the Home for their first ever Festival of Home this September, a two-day festival of talks, supper clubs, performances, workshops and more, exploring themes of home and belonging. 18 and 19 September.
This year’s Chelsea History Festival will bring the past to life through a series of talks, tours and events, both physical and virtual. Book your event here. 17-26 September.
Art and Exhibition
Yinka Shonibare is curating this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, which promises to (hopefully) be a lot more exciting than last year’s. Shonibare will explore the theme of ‘Reclaiming Magic’ and celebrate the joy of creating art. 22 September to 11 January 2022.
Photo London is back at Somerset House, featuring the world’s most iconic photographers, leading photography galleries and publishers, alongside the most exciting emerging galleries and talents. Book your tickets here.
The Wallace Collection will celebrate Frans Hals’s most famous and beloved, yet still enigmatic, painting The Laughing Cavalier (1624). This iconic image has never been seen together with other works by the artist and will form the centrepiece of Frans Hals: The Male Portrait – the first ever show to focus solely on Hals’s portraits of men posing on their own – placing The Laughing Cavalier within the broader context of the artist’s depictions of male sitters. The exhibition will bring together over a dozen of the artist’s best male portraits from collections across the UK, Europe, and North America, making this the first major international loan exhibition at the Wallace Collection. Book here
The Museum of London has acquired work by fifteen London-based contemporary artists and makers which will go on show in a new temporary display, London Making Now, opening 24 September 2021. These will will offer a visually stimulating insight into the world of craft and making in modern London; demonstrating how makers have shaped, and are shaped by, our city. Free entry but pre-book your ticket here.
Did you know that The Crafts Council Gallery has launched a new ‘home for craft?’ The Gallery is located in a Grade-II listed chapel on Pentonville Road in London, which has been transformed to provide a multi-use space for exhibitions, education and events. The first exhibition in the Crafts Council Gallery is Maker’s Eye : Stories of Craft which runs until 9 October 2021. Maker’s Eye will showcase the largest ever presentation of objects from the Crafts Council Collection and its extensive archive. Admission to the Gallery is free.
‘Code Name Mary: The extraordinary life of Muriel Gardiner’ at the Freud Museum tells the story of an American woman who fought fascism in the 1930s and whose own life put her at the centre of a circle that included Sigmund and Anna Freud, the ‘Wolf Man’ Sergei Pankeieff and a string of celebrated figures in the arts, politics, society and medicine. Visits to the museum include a visit to Freud’s study and his psychoanalytic couch. 18 September to 23 January 2022.
Opera and Classical Music
Enjoy some of the best voices from the Royal Opera Houses with the delightful Recitals at Lunch.
High summer in New Orleans: a battlefield tour group has waded through swamps and hurricane damage to see where notorious pirate Pierre Lafitte was imprisoned in 1814. Captivated, one tourist imagines the story of Lafitte’s escape. Incorporating folk and Creole influences, Cabildo is the only opera from pioneering composer Amy Beach, written in 1932 and not performed until after her death. 7-11 September at Wilton’s Music Hall. Book here.
If you’re a fan of classical and orchestral music, check out this September’s Proms listings at the Royal Albert Hall.
This year’s London Handel Festival is based on Handel and the Grand Tour, exploring the composer’s early years in Germany and Italy. 29 September to 24 October. Book here.
Theatre and Stage
The unmissable Message in a Bottle is back at the Peacock Theatre and you can read my review here.
If you enjoyed Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy of books, then you’ll want to bag yourself a ticket to The Mirror and the Light, the highly anticipated final chapter. On at the Gielgud Theatre from 23 September to 28 November.
Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife, The Good Fight) makes her Young Vic debut as a new kind of Hamlet. She reunites with her long-time collaborator, director Greg Hersov, to bring us this tale of power, politics and desire. On from 25 September to 13 November.
Over at the New Wimbledon Theatre, a comedy will be exploring the egos & dreams of two of the greatest talents of their generation: Barbra Streisand and Joan Rivers. Both believe they are the most talented Jewish woman on the planet. One of them is wrong…. Stepping into the shoes of the world-renowned superstars will be Mia Tomlinson (The Beast Must Die, Britbox;) as Joan Rivers, and Rosanna Harris (Grease, UK tour) as Barbra Streisand. The Funny Girls is on from 17 to 24 September.
NT Live is back with the best of British theatre on a screen near you. Follies starring Imelda Staunton kicks off the season followed by Romeo and Juliet later in the month. Book tickets here.
For kids big and small: step into a magical chocolate factory and enjoy an immersive candy-themed walk-through experience with The Chocolate Factory. On until 30 October at Westfield (London). Book here.