As part of London’s Black History Month (October), Trafalgar Square will host African in the Square, a festival celebrating African culture and heritage. // © 2015 VisitBritain/Jason Hawkes
Feature image (above): The View From the Shard will host a series of late-night silent disco parties this fall. // © 2015 VisitBritain/Pawel Libera
If you have a “been there, done that” attitude about London, prepare to be taken aback. This fall, England’s most popular tourist destination is offering a packed schedule of events, blockbuster shows, highly anticipated exhibits and never-before-offered experiences.
Since a number of London tube lines will start operating 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays, many of the city’s cultural institutions have also extended their hours with new late-night programming, including Shakespeare Globe’s Midnight Matinees. Midnight performances of “As You Like It” and “Much Ado About Nothing” start at approximately $7 per ticket and offer a unique opportunity to see Shakespeare performed underneath the starry sky.
Those who need something a bit more energizing than Elizabethan blank verse should hit the Silent Disco at The View From The Shard. On Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., revelers put on a pair of bulky headphones and switch between music channels as three DJs battle it out. Hear everything from pop, R&B, hip hop and dubstep while enjoying 360-degree views of London.
As any parent knows, kids love staying up past their bedtimes. On Sept. 19 and 24, children ages 7-11 are invited to the Museum of London’s Night Owls Sleepover. This special after-hours event for children is a unique opportunity to see the capital in a different light while walking in the shoes of past Londoners and hunting the galleries by flashlight.
Plenty of quality programming is available during waking hours, of course. Other cultural highlights in the fall run the gamut from “Hamlet,” starring film and television star Benedict Cumberbatch to the multiday London Design Festival, taking place at venues across the capital this September.
What follows are some of our other top picks for the season.
Africa on the Square, Trafalgar Square, Oct. 10, 2015
Free to all, Africa on the Square is a celebration of African culture and heritage, featuring live music, dance, fashion, entertainment, traditional cuisine and family workshops in the iconic setting of Trafalgar Square. Enjoy performances from African singers, drummers, acrobats and dancers — while enjoying some of the continent’s best local eats.
Ai Weiwei, Royal Academy of Arts, Sept. 19 through Dec. 13
As the first significant British survey of Ai Weiwei’s art, the exhibition will include major works in a variety of different contexts. The show will reference Chinese art and culture, with original historic objects, as well as Western contemporary art. The idea of creative freedom — which has fueled much of the artist’s latest work — will be a prominent theme throughout the exhibition.
EFG London Jazz Festival 2015, Across London, Nov. 13-22
Enjoy musical improvisation in all its forms at the 23rd EFG London Jazz Festival. Held across various locations, this annual celebration features renowned artists from around the globe including Andy Sheppard, Kamasi Washington, Average White Band & Kokomo, Cassandra Wilson and even rapper Ice-T.
The Crime Museum Uncovered, Museum of London, Oct. 9, 2015 through April 10, 2016
For the first time ever, never-before-seen objects from the Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum will go on public display at the Museum of London. The exhibition will take visitors on a journey through real cases and the ways in which they were investigated. It will bring them close to the evidence from some of the region’s most notorious crimes, including the Acid Bath Murderer of 1949, the Great Train Robbery of 1963 and the Millennium Dome Diamond Heist of 2000.
The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, Sept. 17, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016
The much-anticipated exhibition will reveal how artists around the world engaged with the spirit of pop art, from Latin America to Asia and from Europe to the Middle East. Around 200 works from the 1960s and 1970s will reveal that pop art was more than a celebration of Western consumer culture — it was also a subversive international language for criticism and public protest.