School’s back but that doesn’t mean that the fun has to stop, September is a great time to visit London.
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.
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. Don’t forget that the immersive experience Gunpowder Plot is ongoing at the Tower of London.
If music is your thing then the BBC Proms takes place at the Royal Albert Hall until 10 September.
The London Design Festival takes place this month, celebrating and promoting London as the design capital of the world. You can see the full programme here (I like the sound of the Whale in the Room animated film at the V&A)
Don’t forget that the Cats and Dogs exhibition at the Horniman Museum runs until the end of October.
Be quick and you can catch the last few days of Disney on Stage and the Ice Cream Festival, both in Covent Garden. Both end on 4 September.
Other London posts you might enjoy
- 34 of the best hidden gems in London you must see
- 21 things to do in London in November – with kids! (2022)
- Our 13 favourite children’s book shops in London (2022)
- How high can you go? Try the Cutty Sark Rig Climb and see!
- 26 fun things to do during the October half term in London (2022)
The best things to do in London in September
If you’re still looking for things to do then here are some of the special events, new exhibitions and fun things to do for the month of September, enjoy! Oh, and if the weather turns (let’s face it, we could do with some rain) then here’s how to explore London on rainy days.
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Hallyu! The Korean Wave
Opening towards the end of September is Hallyu! The Korean wave at the V&A. This promises to be a really exciting exhibition showcasing the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea from Gangnam Style and Squid Game to the incredible popularity of K-Pop bands.
Don’t forget that the Beatrix Potter exhibition is still running as is Africa Fashion.
When: Opens 24 September
Where: V&A Museum; closest tube South Kensington
Cost: Adults from £20, Under 26s from £13, Student from £13, Under 12s free
Frieze Sculpture 2022
The Frieze is back this year turning Regent’s Park in Central London into an enormous outdoor gallery with 19 international artists showcasing their artworks throughout the park.
When: Opens 14 September through 13 November
Where: Regent’s Park; nearest tube Regent’s Park and Baker Street
The annual festival celebrating the River Thames is back for the month of September with music, art installations, theatre shows, guided walks, tours, river cruises and more.
A handful of events are aimed at families including Moonlit Mudlark: Evening of Film and Music on South Dock Marina; three days of rewilding and learning about the natural floodplain of the Thames with the Rewilding Arcadia Roadshow; the Royal Wharf Summer Fete; and the Thames Tidefest. See the website for details.
When: Throughout the month of September
Where: Various locations along the River Thames; see website for details.
Cost: Varies (some events are free); see website for details
If your child – or you – has ever dreamt of being an astronaut then make sure to book tickets to see Tim Peake make a one-off appearance at the London Palladium. He’ll talk about his experience being the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station and what it’s really like to be up in space.
When: 4 September
Where: London Palladium; nearest tube Oxford Circus
Cost: £29.20 – £51.20
Family events at the Southbank Centre
Fun family-friendly events at the Southbank Centre this month include Super Hot Hot Dog, with the Corali dance company and The Shoes of Tanbury, a free bilingual adaptation in English and British Sign Language of a book written by Lilac Yosiphon’s grandfather.
On 24 September, families are invited to climb inside and take part in the paraorchestra led by conductor Charles Hazlewood.
When: Various dates in September; see website for details
Where: Southbank Centre; nearest tubes Waterloo and Embankment.
Cost: The performances listed above are all free, advance booking might be required.
The new Fourth Plinth
Dystopian artist Heather Philipson’s dollop of whipped cream topped with a cherry has been sitting on the Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square since 2020 but it’s about to be removed to make way for Antelope. Created by Malawi-born sculptor Samson Kambalu, the sculpture has been created from a photo from 1914 of preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley.
You can see the new statue from 14 September.
When: From 14 September
Where: Trafalgar Square; nearest tube Charing Cross
Open House London
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 usually off limits, including iconic buildings and even private homes – welcome visitors.
Some of the best-looking (read interesting for families) buildings that are open for ‘drop in’ visits this year including the Kempton Steam Museum, City Hall (the new HQ of the Mayor of London) and The Wheelhouse, which was once used by the iconic department store and print maestro Liberty for rinsing printed silk.
See the full programme on the Open House London website.
When: 8 – 21 September
Where: Various locations, see website for details
Yinka Lori at the Design Museum
Perfect for teens (and anyone with an Instagram account) is this new exhibition at the Design Museum celebrating the colourful, playful works of artist Yinka Ilori.
When: 15 September – 25 June
Where: Design Museum; nearest tube High Street Kensington
Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Get lost in space at the National Maritime Museum this month. Their new exhibition showcases the world’s greatest space photography with glittering stars, shimmering galaxies, fiery suns and sliver moons.
When: Opens 17 September
Where: National Maritime Museum; nearest tube Cutty Sark
Cost: Adults £10, concessions £6.50, children £5
For something a little out of the ordinary don’t miss one of London’s quirkiest festivals, the London Bridge Sheep Drive and Livery Fair. In medieval times, sheep famers could 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.
When: 25 September
Where: London Bridge; nearest tube London Bridge
Cost: Access to the Livery Fair is free of charge
The Art of The Pickwick Papers at the Charles Dickens Museum
This exhibition comes to an end this month so make sure to head on over to the Charles Dickens Museum before it closes. The exhibition explores the illustrations of The Pickwick papers, Charles Dickens’s first novel and the “close, but at times tumultuous, relationship” between Dickens and his illustrators.
If you haven’t been to the Charles Dickens Museum yet then it’s well worth a visit anyway!
When: Closes 11 September
Where: The Charles Dickens Museum; nearest tube Russell Square
Cost: Included in admission ticket (Adult/student/child advanced admission £12.50/10.50/7.50)
Exploring Our Oceans at the Natural History Museum
Now open at the Natural History Museum is this free exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the Challenger Expedition, which set off in 1872 to explore the oceans for the very first time.
Don’t forget that Dippy is back at the museum and you can get up close to him after dark with the Dino Snores: The Dippy Special museum sleepover taking place on 22 October. Tickets on sale now.
When: Exploring Our Oceans is on now
Where: Natural History Museum; nearest tube South Kensington
Depot Open Days with the London Transport Museum
Don’t miss the final Depot Open Days of this year when Museum historians, creators, transport experts and volunteers spill the beans on what it takes to keep a collection with more than 320,000 objects running smoothly from London’s first red Routemaster bus to a futuristic prototype Tube train from 1986 – and more!
When: Repeats daily on Thursday at 11am until Sunday 25 September. Also takes place Friday 23 September, Saturday 24 September and Sunday 25 September.
Where: Acton Town Depot; nearest tube Acton Town
Cost: Adult £15, Child £7.50 (under 3s free)
Bat Walk in Hyde Park
Take part in a bat walking tour in one of London’s most famous parks at dusk. The 90 minute guided tour takes place just as the capital’s resident bats are awaking for the night. Activities along the way include a fun quiz and the chance to use bat detectors (bat signal not included!).
When: 15 September, 7.15pm – 8.45pm
Where: Hyde Park; Kensington Gardens; nearest tube XXX
Bus Open Day
Another one for kids who love the idea of driving a bus is the Bus Open Day celebrating 90 years of the Victoria Coach Station. The Thames Valley & Great Western Omnibus Trust has teamed up with TFL to put on a display of vintage coaches. The exhibition takes place on 24 September only.
When: 24 September
Where: Victoria Coach Station
Classic Boat Festival
And one more for transport fans, especially if boats are your thing. The Classic Boat Festival takes place 9-11 September when some 40 vintage vessels including Dunkirk Little Ships and Bates Starcraft will moor at St Katharine Docks.
The event includes boatbuilding workshops, live music and kids activities.
If you fancy getting on the water yourself, the Terrible Thames tour is excellent.
When: 10-11 September; 11am-6pm Saturday, to 5pm Sunday
Where: St Katharine Docks; nearest tube Tower Hill Station
Greewich+Docklands International Festival 2022
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 26 August and runs until 11 September. Take a look at the programme here.
When: 26 August – 11 September
Where: Various venues across the borough, check website for details.
Cost: Most performances are free.
Theatre at the Arts Depot
There are a handful of fun shows for young kids taking place at The Arts Depot this September including Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish (ages 3+), Shakespeare’s Royal Company (ages 5+) and Groove Baby: Grooving with Pirates (ages 3 – 7).
When: Various dates, see website
Where: The Arts Depot; nearest tube Woodside Park
Cost: Various, see website for details
Kew the Movies
Kew Gardens is a great place to be before heading back to School. Kew the Movies runs from 31 August to 4 September offering five days of cinema magic outside. Produced in partnership with The Luna Cinema, you can enjoy a selection of family-friendly movies with three showing every day. Films include Moana, an Encanto Sing-a-long, Aladdin and Sing 2. The evening films tend to be for older kids.
When: 31 August – 4 September with three films a day.
Where: Kew Gardens, adjacent to the Pavilion Bar and Grill; Lion Gate is the closest
Cost: Adults £17.75/14.75/19.50 (morning, afternoon, evening), Child £12.50/9.50/13.50 (morning, afternoon, evening).
Out-of-hours at The British Museum
The best time to see an exhibition is when no-one else is around, right?! Well, now you can explore The British Museum without the crowds thanks to the fun out-of-hours tours they have starting this month. The tours, held from 8.50am – 10am, offer visitors the chance to explore parts of the museum before the galleries open to the public.
Starting in September you can explore the world of ancient Egypt, journey through the cultures of China, and discover the oldest room in the Museum – all without crowds!
When: Out-of-hours tours start from 2 September and run until mid-December and take place on various Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Where: The British Museum; nearest tube Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street
Cost: Adults £33, children (5-15 yrs) £16.50