Whatever the year, season or day of the week, we’re always completely spoiled for brilliant things to do in London. From top gigs to incredible art exhibitions to iconic attractions, our weekend top picks are a good place to start.
Totally Thames returns this September, with a programme of river-related activities, heritage events and public art installations taking place throughout the month. This weekend’s highlights include Brunel’s London, a boat trip under three Brunel Bridges to the launch ramps of his monster ship on the Isle of Dogs, plus a guided tour through the Thames Tunnel – Sat & Sun, meeting at 11.10am, tickets £14-£16); Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe, a gentle walk through a Lost Village to the Mayflower statue (meet at Rotherhithe Station, every Fri & Sat at 6.15pm and Sun at 10.45am up to 27 Sept, £10-£15).
If you have missed the cinema experience during lockdown, here’s your chance to get back to the big screen with 14 screenings of some of the greatest movie classics at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Toy Story, Joker, Back To The Future, Grease, The Lion King, A Star Is Born and more will be shown across six days at the car park on Pudding Mill Lane. Suzuki presents @TheDriveIn is more than a drive-in experience. There’s also a host of fun games preceding the cinema entertainment including Caraoke, Silent Car Disco and comedy performances. The event is part of a 13-week UK wide tour and has received glowing reviews from all over the country. Tickets are £35 per car and some screenings have age restrictions based on the film ratings.
The Saatchi Gallery has reopened in Chelsea with a new London Grads Now exhibition, showcasing work by 150 graduate students from London’s fine art schools, including Central Saint Martins, Slade School of Art and Camberwell College of Arts, among others. Following the cancellation of graduation shows across London due to COVID-19 restrictions, Saatchi Gallery with the generous support of Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, invited students and lecturers to organise an exhibition that would enable graduating students to showcase their works safely within international-quality gallery spaces. Tickets are £3 entry, open Sat & Sun, 10am-6pm.
Stand Up at The O2 is an all-new event series offering you the chance to enjoy an exclusive comedy performance on top of the world’s number one music, entertainment and leisure venue – once you’ve climbed it. The urban mountaineering experience has partnered with award-winning comedian Suzi Ruffell to host the events, which start with an exhilarating climb up to the roof of The O2, followed by Ruffell’s intimate comedy set of exclusive material, complete with 360-degree, panoramic views of the capital, before climbing back down to Base Camp. The perfect alternative for those seeking their comedy fix or simply some light-hearted entertainment. Stand Up at The O2 takes place on 19 & 26 September and 3 October at 7pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are £40pp.
London Fashion Week has been scaled down to an innovative schedule of intimate presentations, appointment-only displays and digital events. Gareth Pugh is showcasing a major new multidisciplinary exhibition in partnership with Christie’s, featuring an ambitious series of film shorts and visuals by Nick Knight. The new autumn/winter collection is presented against virtual landscapes created by pioneering digital artist Jon Emmony, with a soundtrack spanning Patti Smith, Madonna and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Intended as a radical statement of solidarity, all proceeds from ticket sales are being donated to Refuge, the UK’s leading charity tackling the effects of domestic violence. Tickets are £10 per person, 18 & 19 September.
London’s iconic Clapham Grand reopens this week with its first post-lockdown shows featuring Frank Turner, Russell Howard and Emily Atak, plus Jimmy Carr, The Vivienne, Louise Redknapp and more to come. The venue also opens refurbished top tier balcony for first time in 15 years. Frank Turner, who helped to raise £25k with the Save The Grand campaign, playing a pilot of his Independent Venue Love live stream from the venue on Friday 18 September. Other shows include iconic Drag Race & Big Brother star Courtney Act with a one-off intimate evening on 19 September; plus comedian Russell Howard, who is taking over the Grand for a month of Sundays with a run of work-in-progress shows from 20 September. Ticket prices vary and some live streams are still available.
SLEEPLESS, a new musical starring Jay McGuiness from The Wanted and Kimberley Walsh of Girls’ Aloud, alongside a 12-piece jazz orchestra, is the first fully staged, indoor musical to be back up and running post lockdown. The timeless romantic comedy tells the story of Sam, a brokenhearted man who moves to Seattle following the tragic death of his wife. When his 10-year-old son phones a radio show, Sam ends up talking about his sleepless nights live on air and suddenly finds himself one of the most-sought after singles in America. Theatregoers can park at Wembley Stadium for just £1. Tickets from £15.
With the real Oktoberfest unable to take place this year, the team at The Five Points Brewing Company has decided to throw their own socially-distanced celebration in its honour. Taking place at the company’s Mare Street Taproom on what would have been the famous Munich festival’s opening weekend, Five Points Does Oktoberfest will feature lagers from some of the UK’s best craft breweries, including Donzoko, Lost & Grounded, Braybrooke, North Brewing Co, The Kernel, Unity Brewing Co, Burning Sky and Anspach & Hobday. There will be DJs too, as well as ACE PIZZA serving up Bavarian-inspired pizza specials. Book a table in advance via Design My Night. 18-19 September.