things to do london september 2020

The coolest things to do in London in September

The capital is re-opening - and where’s what you should be booking

Going out? Making plans? It’s been so long they seem like quite alien concepts right now, don’t they? But with offices reopening, restaurants and bars throwing their doors wide and some semblance of normality returning, so too are days out and plans not involving Netflix and Deliveroo. There are some caveats, of course. Social distancing is being strictly enforced at all venues in the capital so you’ll need to book early and don’t forget to bring your face mask and hand sanitiser. That said, there’s still plenty to choose from so, if you’ve finally had your fill of streaming, here are the best events, exhibitions and shows taking place in the capital this month.

The event: London Design Festival 2020

Interiors looking a little lacklustre after lockdown? Good job the capital will be bursting with inspiration this month thanks to the return of the London Design Festival then. Now in its 18th edition, the festival will be held from 12-20 September across some of London’s most stylish locales, including the V&A, Coal Drops Yard and the Design Museum.

There are hundreds of free events taking place across the nine days but the key highlight is The Hothouse, a Victorian-style glasshouse filled with exotic, tropical flora and fauna designed by architecture firm Studio Weave and constructed at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There will also be a series of talks, seminars and installations created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and SAP designed to spark conversation around sustainability and the circular economy and a new commission by Marlene Huissoud, entitled Unity, that interrogates our changing relationship to our environments as we emerge from the pandemic.


The exhibition: Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain

When it opened on 4 March, Tate Britain’s exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley’s elegant and darkly comical black-and-white drawings was roundly reviewed as one of the capital’s must-see art exhibits of 2020. Then coronavirus struck, causing museums and galleries to close and cancelling the exhibition’s run after just three weeks. Which is a real shame because Beardsley’s audacious, bold works are the perfect starting point from which to investigate a different, lesser known part of Victorian life. Luckily, the exhibition has now been extended until 20 September so you still have time to admire the works of this prolific artist.


The show: Soul Sundays at Quaglino’s


Been missing live music during lockdown? Us too. And, while gigs and concerts show no signs of returning imminently, there is a way to get your fix. Quaglino’s, the St James fine dining restaurant, has reopened this month and is offering a full complement of live music alongside its excellent fare. There’s a roster of acts playing almost every night but it’s the weekly Soul Sundays we’d recommend. Tuck into the likes of roast pork belly with duck fat potatoes and seasonal vegetables or pan-roasted Gilt sea bream, curried mussel pottage and saffron potatoes while house bands Coco Vegas, Otty Quartet and The Gents offer up some of the greatest hits from the soul canon.


The nightlife: Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

electronic design museum

Okay, not technically nightlife (clubbing is still firmly off the table), but as nightlife adjacent as you’re going to get right now. Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, the Design Museum’s exhibition dedicated to the evolution of electronic music was due to open on 1 April and, after months gathering dust, has finally opened to the public. Presented in a club-like environment, the exhibition explores the visual culture surrounding electronic music, examining the people, art, photography and technology that made it a global phenomenon.


The film: The Winter Night Garden by Backyard Cinema

While your local mutliplex, complete with popcorn-strewn floors and shared cupholders, might not appeal right now, those hankering to relive the experience of the big screen should put Backyard Cinema firmly on their to-do list. This month it reopens the Night Garden – its magnificent enchanted forest-inspired venue at Capital Studios in Wandsworth – with a schedule that includes old classics and new favourites, including Joker, True Romance, Tenet and Dirty Dancing. Plus, there’s great cocktails and food from Mother Clucker and Honest Burgers so you can make a real night of it.


Feel safe staying in? Here’s what to watch of Netflix in September…

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