School’s back but that doesn’t mean that the fun has to stop, September is a great time to visit London.
September is a good time to visit some of the capital’s most popular attractions, famous London landmarks and museums without the crowds. Places such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, the Science Museum and even Madame Tussauds will see far fewer visitors than during the summer holidays. Plus it’s a great time to see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London without having to queue for long.
In short, there are lots of fun things to do in London in September!
This time of year sees lots of new and ongoing events including favourites such as the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, which are open to visitors until October. Combine a visit to see Her Majesty with watching the Changing of the Guard (check out their timetable here). For more Royal Family fun consider a day trip to Windsor Castle.
If music is your thing then the BBC Proms takes place at the Royal Albert Hall until 9 September.
The London Design Festival takes place this month from September 16 – 24, celebrating and promoting London as the design capital of the world.
The best things to do in London in September
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The following are some of the special events, new exhibitions and fun things to do for the month of September, enjoy! Oh, and if the London weather turns, then here’s how to explore the city on rainy days.
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Kew the Movies
One of the best things about London during the summer months are the many outdoor cinemas that spring up around the city and one of our favourites is Kew the Movies in Kew Gardens.
Celebrate the last few days of summer with this fun event before the kids head back to school. Produced in partnership with The Luna Cinema, you can enjoy a selection of family-friendly movies with three showing every day. Films include an Encanto Sing-a-long, Moana, Paddington and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.
When: 30 August – 3 September with three films a day.
Where: Kew Gardens, adjacent to the Pavilion Bar and Grill; Lion Gate is the closest
After three years, a £13 million renovation, countless consultations with local children and a name change (it used to be called the Museum of Childhood), the Young V&A is once again open and is quite brilliant.
The vastly new and improved museum for children opened in July with three new galleries to explore – Play, Imagine and Design – with plenty to delight kids of all ages. A mysterious “sound tree” houses an interactive game, a make-your-own board game table and a giant foam construction set. All together it’s a wonderful world of colour and imagination.
Opening mid-October is a new exhibition, Japan: Myths to Manga, which promises to be very good.
When: Ongoing; Japan: Myths & Manga opens on 14 October
Where: Young V&A, nearest tube Bethnal Green
Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto at the V&A
Opening on 16 September is the latest exhibition from the V&A Museum which explores the enormous influence of Gabrielle Chanel, the French couturier from her Parisian roots to establishing the House of Chanel. Exhibition highlights include original Chanel dresses, iconic tweed jackets, photographs and more
If you need a little fashion inspiration – or just want to know more about this fashion powerhouse – book tickets pronto.
Ongoing at the V&A is the exhibition DIVA, which celebrates the power and creativity of iconic performers across opera, stage, popular music, and film. Make a day of it and explore both exhibitions.
When: Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto open on 16 September.
Where: The V&A Museum, closest tube South Kensington
Sir Ranulph Fiennes live at Alexandra Palace
Listen to “the world’s greatest living explorer”, Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE talk at Alexandra Palace this month. Among Sir Ranulph’s many achievements are circumnavigating the surface of the globe from pole to pole, being the first person o cross the Arctic and Antarctica on foot, and discovering the Lost City of Ubar in Arabia.
Charismatic, entertaining and full of extraordinary stories, this promises to be a fascinating night out.
When: Thursday 7 September, from 6.30pm. Book tickets in advance
Where: Alexandra Palace, nearest train station Alexandra Palace Station
Illusionaries at Canary Wharf
An immersive video art installation is taking place in Canary Wharf. Called Illusinoaries, the exhibition consists of video art-filled rooms each telling a chapter of a somewhat surreal story. It’s fully immersive and quite odd but anyone with a penchant for curious and unusual experiences will on doubt enjoy it (be aware, however, that at £38 per person for a 40 minute show it’s not cheap!).
When: Open until 24 September
Where: Near the Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf, look for the silver wall and you’ll find it.
Colourscape Music Festival
Taking place in South London on Clapham Common again this year is the slightly bonkers but highly entertaining Colourscape Music Festival. Simply wander around the labyrinth of multicoloured inflatable tunnels and see which musicians you come across, maybe a Chinese percussionist or Cotswold musicians performing on slate instruments and tin whistles.
When: 9 – 17 September
Where: Clapham Common, between the Windmill Pub and Long Pond
Totally Thames Festival
The annual festival celebrating the River Thames is back for the month of September with music, film, art installations, theatre shows, guided walks, tours, river cruises and more.
A handful of events are aimed at families including a workshop where you can create your own pop-up Tower Bridge and another where you can make masks inspired by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey.
When: Throughout the month of September
Where: Various locations along the Thames river; see website for details.
Family events at the Southbank Centre
Family events taking place at the Southbank Centre in September include a Youth Voices taster workshop, a family-friendly performance of the Multi-Story Orchestra and the monthly reggae meet-up, Simmer Down.
When: Various dates in September; see website for details
Where: Southbank Centre; nearest tubes Waterloo and Embankment.
Open House Festival
Get a sneak peak behind doors that are usually firmly shut to the public during Open House London. This is when London buildings that are typically off limits, including iconic buildings and even private homes, welcome visitors.
This year the festival will take place over two weekends, 9-10 and 16-17 September.
See the full programme on the Open House London website.
When: The weekends of September 9 – 10 and 16 – 17.
Where: Various locations, see website for details
The Offbeat Sari at the Design Museum
Ever wondered just what goes in to tying a Sari? Or the meaning behind this traditional Indian dress? This exhibition at the Design museum celebrates the contemporary sari and unravels its numerous forms and meanings.
The exhibition has had rave reviews so if you haven’t seen it yet, hot foot it over to the Design Museum before it closes on 17 September.
When: Closes on 17 September
Where: Design Museum; nearest tube High Street Kensington
Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Get lost in space at the National Maritime Museum this month with the opening of Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition, showcasing the world’s greatest space photography. This annual event is the chance to marvel at glittering stars, shimmering galaxies, fiery suns, and sliver moons all presented in some incredible photos. Photographers from across the globe compete to take home the prestigious title.
When: Opens 16 September
Where: National Maritime Museum; nearest tube Cutty Sark
The London Bridge Sheep Drive and Livery Fair
For something a little more unusual don’t miss one of London’s quirkiest festivals, the London Bridge Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. In medieval times, sheep famers would drive their sheep across London Bridge to sell them at market in the City of London. Unlike other folk wanting to cross the river, sheep farmers could traverse the bridge for free.
Today this charity event raises funds for The Woolmen Charity and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Each year a celebrity herds the sheep across the bridge and this year it’s author, television presenter and narrator Kate Humble. A lively Livery Fair forms part of the event.
This year’s Sheep Drive takes place on Southwark Bridge.
When: 24 September
Where: Southwark Bridge
A Great and Dirty City: Dickens and the London Fog at the Charles Dickens Museum
London used to be well known for its ‘pea soupers’; heavy, dense fog of greens, yellows, rust colours or even black that enveloped the city. Dickens wrote often about the continual fog and this exhibition explores the circumstances that created this problem and how Dickens was inspired by the phenomenon.
Among the items on display are a first edition of Dickens’s ‘foggiest’ novel, Bleak House and Dickens’ own fire poker, used to tend his dining room fire while he lived at Gad’s Hill.
When: Closes 22 October
Where: The Charles Dickens Museum; nearest tube Russell Square
Depot Open Days: Transport and Stories with the London Transport Museum
Don’t miss the final Depot Open Days of this year when the London Transport Museum shares stories about the city’s public transport, the people who worked on the systems and the many, many passengers who travel on the network.
Friendly costumed actors will be on hand to help share more information on London’s incredible transport network. Look out for Harry Beck, designer of the iconic Tube map and listen to the story of Joe Clough, the first Black bus driver in Britain.
A selection of Poems on the Underground will be on display as well as miniature station models rarely seen by the public.
Make sure to book in advance, these days are popular!
When: 21 – 24 September
Where: Acton Town Depot; nearest tube Acton Town
Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum
If you haven’t caught this exhibition yet at the Natural History Museum then make sure you schedule it into you calendar for the autumn.
Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur explores the world of the magnificent titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum, one of the largest creatures to have ever walked the earth. Learn how he found food, kept cool and stayed safe on this journey from tiny egg to towering creature.
When: Titanosaur: Life as the Biggest Dinosaur
Where: Natural History Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Mail Rail Science Day at the Postal Museum
One of our favourite museums for families in London is hosting a day of STEM-focused activities. Aimed at home educators – but open to all – these activities at the Postal Museum include live experiments aimed at discovering how to power the postal network, investigating Mail Rail objects and interactive galleries.
When: Wednesday 13 September
Where: The Postal Museum; nearest underground King’s Cross
Po-Mo in the City of London Walking Tour
One for parents (and possibly teens interested in architecture) is this Open City walking tour discovering some of the foremost Post-War and Postmodern buildings within London’s Square Mile.
Led by architectural historian Jon Wright, the 2.5-hour tour takes in some of the neighbourhood’s most iconic buildings including Exchange House, Broadgate Circle and Milton Gate.
When: Saturday 23 September, 10am. Tickets must be booked in advance
Where: Meet at Exchange House, 12 Primrose St EC2A 2HS
Beats and Blooms Family Rave with Big Fish Little Fish at the Horniman Museum
South London’s favourite family museum is hosting a family rave to celebrate Big Fish Little Fish’s ten year anniversary. The Horniman Gardens is the perfect place to join in the knees up where music, dancing, food, bars, crafting activities, author readings, bubbles, balloons and more are guaranteed to keep everyone in the family entertained for hours.
Don’t forget that the Horniman Museum’s excellent Brick Dino exhibition is ongoing
When: 9 September, 2pm – 6pm; tickets won’t be available on the door so do book in advance
Where: Horniman Museum; nearest train station Forest Hill
Route 38 Heritage Event with the London Bus Museum
Did you know that half of all bus journeys made in the UK are made in London? And that one of the most popular routes has been running for 111 years?! The Bus route 38, which includes popular stops such as Hyde Park Corner, the Ritz, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum, Sadler’s Wells and Dalston Junction, first started ferrying passengers in 1912.
Celebrate this iconic route on 16 September when the London Bus Museum will be running heritage buses dating from the 1950s and 1970s alongside the normal daily service on route 38, Victoria to Hackney.
When: 16 September, 10am – 5pm
Where: Route 38, Victoria to Hackney
Classic Boat Festival
One more for transport fans, especially if boats are your thing. The Classic Boat Festival takes place 9-10 September when some 40 vintage vessels including Dunkirk Little Ships and motorboats from the Bates Starcraft and Rampart ranges will moor at St Katharine Docks.
The event includes boatbuilding workshops, live music and kids’ activities.
When: 9-10 September
Where: St Katharine Docks; nearest tube Tower Hill Station
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
According to the Guardian, the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) makes an “unrivalled contribution to the happiness of the people of London.” Experience fun times and good vibes at this festival of free outdoor theatre and performing arts, which takes place across the borough from the the Royal Docks and Tower Hamlets to the Old Royal Naval College and Royal Arsenal Riverside.
This 17 day festival of free theatre, art, dance and circus starts 25 August and runs until 10 September.
When: 25 August – 10 September
Where: Various venues across the borough, check website for details.
Theatre at the Arts Depot
There are a handful of fun shows for young kids taking place at The Arts Depot this September including Teddy Bears’ Picnic on Sunday 17 September aimed at children aged 0-8 years (remember to bring your own teddy with you!), Bring Your Own Baby Comedy on Thursday 21 September, and Rubbish Romeo and Juliet on Sunday 24 September aimed at children aged 5+.
When: Various dates, see website
Where: The Arts Depot; nearest tube Woodside Park
Family activities at the British Museum
Join an out-of-hours guided tour of British Museum this month. These tours held before the galleries open to the public – the perfect time to discover some of the museums most exciting rooms! Themes this month include Life and Death in Ancient Egypt, an Introduction to China and and Introduction to the British Museum.
On 21 September the museum is hosting a fun crafts session for Under 5s linked to the museum’s exhibition, China’s hidden century. Using exhibition objects and displays as inspiration, children will be invited to create their own floral artwork.
When: Various dates, check website for details
Where: The British Museum, nearest underground nearest tube Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street