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What's On In London | September 2016

What's On In London | September 2016

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 15 November 2016
With the promised Spanish heatwave looking unlikely to put in an appearance, many of us are starting to feel resigned to the inevitable arrival of Autumn, but with a host of outdoor festivals and cracking shows bringing London to life this month, summer ain’t over yet. Here’s the best theatre, food and art that are making this perhaps the city’s liveliest month.


THEATRE | Explore The Power Dynamics Of Race And The Peeping Tom With Expensive Sh*t

📅   Thursday, 1st September – Sunday, 4th September 

Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Adura Onashile’s new, all-female play about Tolu, a Nigerian toilet attendant in a fictional Glasgow nightclub, comes to the Southbank’s Africa Utopia Festival. Inspired by a true story, Expensive Sh*t explores social power dynamics and the male gaze in modern Scotland and Nigeria, through the story of the impoverished, exploited Tolu, who makes a living by allowing paying male punters to spy on her customers as they use her toilets.

Tickets: £12

📍Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX


FESTIVAL | Celebrate The Quiet Majesty Of The River With This Year’s Totally Thames Festival

📅   Thursday, 1st September – Friday, 30th September

London’s historic lifeblood takes centre stage for Totally Thames, an annual, month-long celebration of one of the world’s most famous rivers, with a jam-packed schedule of 150 events both beside and on the Thames. There’s something for everybody, with arts festivals, regattas, river races, concerts, exclusive discounts at riverside restaurants and much more, while Ik-Joong Kang’s major installation, Floating Dreams — a three-storey lantern and memorial to victims of the Korean War hovering above the river— provides a poignant focal point.

Tickets: Free-Various

📍Various locations


ART | Get Up Close And Personal With Bjork With Her Virtual Reality Exhibition At Somerset House

📅   Thursday, 1st September–Sunday, 23rd October

Icelandic singer and songwriter Bjork takes over the New Wing of Somerset House for the European premiere of this immersive, virtual reality exhibition. Bjork Digital sees the music legend collaborating with some of the world’s finest visual artists and programmers to produce a series of digital and video works — inviting viewers to connect on a one-on-one level with the artist, engaging with her work through the latest technology, including virtual reality.

Tickets: £15

📍Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA


FOOD | Sink Your Teeth Into Hulking Slabs Of Meat At The Meatopia Festival

📅   Friday, 2nd September–Sunday, 4th September

This BBQ-sauce-smothered, three-day food feast where London’s protein-enthusiasts sacrifice their waistlines on the altar of carnivorism borders on the obscene, with copious amounts of roasting, sizzling, searing slabs of meat, beer and more trucker hats than a Texan tailgate. Dance to live music, watch a butchery demo or take a workshop courtesy of top chefs from around the world, while you chow down on a variety of global meat dishes — all cooked over logs or charcoal.

Tickets: £23.85+

📍Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Lane, London E1W 2SF



The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, 'Revolution' 1968 by Alan Aldridge|©Iconic Images, Alan Aldridge/V&A / Festival stock image|©Unsplash/Pixabay

Courtesy of Ask For Janice / Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart|©Luke Fontana/The Corner Shop /
The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, ‘Revolution’ 1968 by Alan Aldridge|©Iconic Images, Alan Aldridge/V&A / Festival stock image|©Unsplash/Pixabay

FOOD | Get a Taste Of Nature With An Urban Foraging Masterclass

📅   Wednesday, 7th September

Wild food forager Jason Irving leads this unique evening, which offers foodies the chance to learn the art of urban foraging — giving an insight into the local ingredients that can be found in unlikely London locations. Sample cocktails and infused gin tipples while picking up top tips on plant recognition and cooking, while tucking into a three-course feast of small plates created with foraged vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Tickets: £20

📍Ask For Janice, 50-52 Long Lane, London, EC1A 9EJ


THEATRE | See Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen Tread The Boards In No Man’s Land

📅   Thursday, 8th September – Saturday, 17th December 

Iconic actors Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart take to the London stage with their hit Broadway production of Harold Pinter’s masterpiece, No Man’s Land — deep breaths everybody. After selling out in New York in 2014, Stewart and McKellen are reuniting for a UK tour of Sean Mathias’ acclaimed production; playing two ageing writers, the pair drink into the night after meeting at a pub, in what is an intimate, part comedic, part existentially-despairing staple of absurdist theatre. Expect another sell-out stint.

Tickets: £10 – £75

📍Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DA


ART | Get Radical At The Victoria and Albert Museum’s 60s Expose 

📅   Saturday, 10th September 2016 – Sunday, 26th February 2017

As a period of unbelievably rapid social, political and cultural change, youth culture of the 60s spawned an unparalleled spread of political idealism, radical thought and revolutionary counterculture. This major exhibition at the V&A seeks to explore not only the era-defining moments of the 60s, but also how they still influence the world today — from civil rights to consumerism, environmentalism to neoliberalism — through some of the greatest music, performances, fashion, film and design of the 20th century.

Tickets: £16

📍Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL


FESTIVAL | Catch A Last Piece Of The Summer Festivities At This Year’s On Blackheath

📅   Saturday, 10th September – Sunday, 11th September

One of the last summer festivals of the year, this family-friendly weekend of music, food and art returns for its third year. Seeking to throw ‘scorn to any short-sighted misgivings’ that lead so many to resist a trip south of the river, On Blackheath celebrates the inclusive and communal spirit of this slighted corner of the city. This year’s headliners are Primal Scream and Belle & Sebastian, while Squeeze, James and Hot Chip are also sure to draw big crowds.

Tickets: £52.50+

📍Shooters Hill Road, London, SE3 0TY



Popcorn stock image|©Annca/Pixabay / 'Self-Portrait, III', 1938, Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)'|© SDO Wifredo Lam/Tate Modern / Ship sailing from Turku|©narujen/wikicommons / nterior of 'The Smile' by Alison Brooks Architects for the London Design Festival 2016, supported by British Land| Courtesy of London Design Festival Grand Staircase at the Foreign and Commonwealth office, Open House 2009|©Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Flickr / I

Popcorn stock image|©Annca/Pixabay / ‘Self-Portrait III’, 1938, Wifredo Lam (1902-1982)|© SDO Wifredo Lam/Tate Modern / Ship sailing from Turku|©narujen/wikicommons / Interior of ‘The Smile’ by Alison Brooks Architects for the London Design Festival 2016, supported by British Land| Courtesy of London Design Festival /  Grand Staircase at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Open House 2009|©Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Flickr

FILM | Dip Into Arab Cinema At The SAFAR Film Festival

📅   Wednesday, 14th September – Sunday, 18th September

Back for a third instalment, this small film festival is the only one in the UK dedicated to showing contemporary cinema from the Arab world. Though filmmaking from this part of the globe is far from well-known, Arab cinema has grown in both note and esteem in recent years; filmmakers often have to battle censorship and state-imposed conservatism to project their artistic vision onto the world stage, with an eclectic mix of genres on display at SAFAR.

Tickets: Various

📍Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH


ART | Explore The Politics Of Afro-Cuban Art At The Tate’s Wifredo Lam Retrospective 

📅   Wednesday, 14th September –  Sunday 8th January 2017

The life and work of Cuban artist Wifredo Lam is put under the spotlight in this major exhibition at the Tate Modern. Primarily a painter who also dabbled in sculpture and ceramics in later life, Lam witnessed periods of significant political upheaval around the world, and was closely connected to artistic and literary icons from Picasso to Breton. His work addressed issues of political injustice and spirituality, channeling and largely reviving the Afro-Cuban cultural tradition.

Tickets: £16

📍Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG


FESTIVAL | Sail Down The Thames Onboard The Majestic Tall Ships At Royal Sail Greenwich

📅   Thursday, 15th September – Sunday, 18th September

Part of the larger Totally Thames festival, Tall Ships are once again bringing their majestic fleet to Greenwich. Londoners will be able to board a stunning sailboat for a cruise up this scenic stretch of the river, past the Old Royal Navy College, Cutty Sark, over the Prime Meridan and into the modern metropolis of Canary Wharf. Opt for either a leisurely daytime sail, or splurge on an evening jaunt complete with a spectacular fireworks display.

Tickets: £59.90

📍Royal Arsenal Pier, Marlborough Road, London SE18 6TL


DESIGN | See Why Your City Is The World Capital Of Design At The London Design Festival

📅   Saturday, 17th September – Sunday, 25th September

With over 400 events staged by hundreds of exhibitors in seven official ‘design districts’ right across London (with some of the city’s major museums participating) the London Design Festival is a truly vast event — and it’s free! The annual festival aims to ‘celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world’; major installations this year include ‘The Smile’, a colossal, interactive hardwood structure by Alison Brooks, and ‘The Green Room’, a monumental kinetic installation at the V&A.

Tickets: Free – various



FESTIVAL | Sneak A Peek Inside An Architectural Wonder With Open House London

📅   Saturday, 17th September – Sunday, 18th September

One of the most anticipated events on the calendar for any Londoner eager to get up close and personal with their city, the annual Open House event sees hundreds of the capital’s most beautiful, historic and important buildings from every period and in every style abandon their normal privacy, opening their doors up for free to everyone and their uncle. The weekend is also packed with free guided tours, architectural walks, debates and other activities.

Tickets: Free




Courtesy of New Scientist Live / 'Water of the Flowery Mill', Arshile Gorky|© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Royal Academy / Álvaro Guarnido| Courtesy of Crouch End ArtHouse / Japanese sushi| ADOnline/Pixabay

Courtesy of New Scientist Live / ‘Water of the Flowery Mill’, Arshile Gorky|© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Royal Academy / Álvaro Guarnido| Courtesy of Crouch End ArtHouse / Japanese sushi| ADOnline/Pixabay

FESTIVAL | Explore Cutting Age Science With Tim Peake At New Scientist Live

📅   Thursday, 22nd September – Sunday, 25th September

Boffins, eggheads and aspiring physicists, listen up. For four days, the world’s most popular science weekly will be taking over London’s ExCel Centre for New Scientist Live festival of ideas and discovery. Over 100 talks and immersive experiences from 200 exhibitors will introduce festival goers to the most exciting and provocative science of our time. Watch Dara O’Briain host a talent show between human and machine, hear Tim Peake talk about his life in space, and see the ExoMars Rover and 1000mph Bloodhound Car.

Tickets: £25+ 

📍ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL


ART | Experience The Innovative Art Of Bankside’s Merge Festival

📅   Friday, 23rd September –  Sunday, 23rd October

This free festival on London’s Bankside depends on ongoing crowdfunding and the help of volunteers for its survival, but for its sixth year Merge Festival is aiming to put on a programme that’s bigger and better than ever before. Curated and produced by Illuminate Productions, Merge brings together innovative arts, music and performance into interactive spaces in unusual and historic venues in a variety of shapes and sizes across Bankside.

Tickets: Free



ART | Take A Look At The Masterpieces Of New York’s Post-War Abstract Expressionism Movement

📅   Saturday, 24th September – Monday, 2nd January 2017

This post-World War II movement is considered a ‘watershed moment’ in art, channeling the anxiety of instability and mass destruction into a period of intensive, expressive, contemplative and colourful creation — it was also the art movement that put New York on the map. From artists such as Pollock, Kline, Rothko and de Kooning, this major exhibition at the Royal Academy aims to capture the breadth of this extraordinary creative period, acknowledging lesser-known mediums from sculpture to photography.

Tickets: £17

📍Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD


DANCE | Experience The Lusty, Passionate World Of Spain’s Flamenco Dancers

📅   Sunday, 25th September

Head to the Crouch End ArtHouse, one of North London’s favourite cultural venues, for a sensual, intimate evening of Spanish music and dance, as Flamenco dancer Álvaro Guarnido takes to the small stage with friends Lourdes Fernandez, Tito Heredia and El Gambimba. Having sold out at an event in Crouch End earlier in the year, Guarnido’s dance will take his audience through an emotional journey, with the dance unfolding in a dramatic and passionate narrative celebrating the rhythms of Spain.  

Tickets: £20

📍Crouch End ArtHouse, 159A Tottenham Lane, London N8 9BT


FESTIVAL | Transport Yourself Across The Pacific With A Day Of Japanese Culture

📅   Sunday, 25th September

Back for its 8th year, Japan Matsuri is the ultimate celebration of Japanese culture in London, with non-stop action throughout the day, with live music, martial arts, origami, calligraphy, martial arts and plenty of food. Highlights include the first UK appearance of Aozasa Shishi Odori (deer dancers) with a dynamic routine, and the return of mass swinging and stretching as the musical exercise team Radio Taiso lead thousands of people across the square.

Tickets: Free

📍Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN



'Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)' by Anthea Hamilton, 2015 installation view, Anthea Hamilton: Lichen! Libido! Chastity!, SculptureCenter, 2015, courtesy of the artist|©Kyle Knodell/Tate Britain / Poster for 'Boys in the Band'|Courtesy of the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park / Cooking with a view|Courtesy of Urban Coterie / James Bond opening credits image|©ThemePlus/Flickr

‘Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’ by Anthea Hamilton, 2015 installation view, Anthea Hamilton: Lichen! Libido! Chastity!, SculptureCenter, 2015, courtesy of the artist|©Kyle Knodell/Tate Britain / Poster for ‘Boys in the Band’|Courtesy of the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park / Cooking with a view|Courtesy of Urban Coterie / James Bond opening credits image|©ThemePlus/Flickr

ART| Get A Taste Of Infamy At The Tate Britain’s Turner Prize 2016 Exhibition 

Your chance to see the short-listed artists in this year’s relentlessly controversial Turner Prize at Tate Britain, perhaps one of the best known prizes in the art world. The award is given to a visual artist under 50 working in the UK, with previous winners including Damien Hirst and Laure Prouvost. Among the 2016 exhibitions are Anthea Hamilton’s already controversial ‘Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’ and Michael Dean’s large-scale sculptures and installations constructed with mundane items.

Tickets: £10.90

📍Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG


THEATRE | See The Play That Changed Gay Theatre With The Revival Of The Boys In the Band

📅   Wednesday, 28th September –  Sunday 30th October

The then-shocking Boys in the Band first premiered off Broadway in 1968, with the Stonewall riots just around the corner. It has been theorised that Mart Crowley’s remarkable, seminal play may actually have inspired the riots, changing the landscape of gay theatre in the process. This much-anticipated revival is the first in London in almost 20 years, coming courtesy of the producers of the upcoming stage adaptation of Brokeback Mountain — definitely one not to be missed.

Tickets: £20+

📍Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP


FOOD | See A Michelin-Starred Chef In Action With Anthony Demetre’s Sky-High Masterclass  

📅   Wednesday, 28th September – Wednesday, 23rd November

Michelin-starred chef Anthony Demetre will be pitching up in Urban Coterie’s sky-high restaurant for a series of masterclasses focusing on seasonal dishes. Spend an hour experiencing the buzz of a top-notch kitchen and watch the master chef at work as he creates dishes of grilled monkfish, grilled beef bavette and ricotta gnudi before settling down in the swanky restaurant with a glass of bubbly to enjoy his delicious three-course feast.

Tickets: £49.50

📍Urban Coterie, 151-157 City Rd, London EC1V 1JH


MUSIC | Sing Along To The World’s Most Famous Soundtracks With The Best of James Bond

📅   Friday, 30th September

With arguably the most prolific, iconic soundtracks of any cinematic series, this evening at the Royal Festival Hall is a must for all you Bond-lovers out there. Listen as the London Concert Orchestra bring to life in all their glory such classics as ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Live And Let Die’, in an evening which will celebrate over 50 years of Bond films alongside a tribute to other spies and detectives around the globe.

Tickets: £16.50+

📍Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX