Best things to do in London in Autumn: the top events to book ahead
Leaves falling, London calling: exciting exhibitions, cool collaborations, fantastic film and the best theatre to book and look forward to in the coming months
Are you back and baked from your holiday? Are you pining, or worse... peeling?
Never mind, get a spring in your step for September by booking these London autumn events and give your calendar a treat.
No Man's Land, Wyndham's Theatre
September 8 - September 17
What happens when Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, who happen to be best friends, put on a show together? Better book and find out- No Man's Land is no less than a two-act play by Harold Pinter. Two ageing companions are deeply unsettled by the arrival of two mysterious young gentlemen, who disrupt their quiet ease in more ways than one. It was a young Patrick Stewart's ambition to act in: “I saw the original production of No Man's Land three times in one week at Wyndham's Theatre". A dream fulfilled and surely a dream to watch.
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London Design Festival
September 17 - September 25
A party at the V&A, a smile you can walk through, the story of a teapot, Somerset House creating its own Utopia... it can only be the London Design festival, founded in 2003 and since risen from strength to strength. Seven design districts across the capital will make it a truly well-designed city, with the Victoria and Albert Museum at its hub. Ordinary objects become extraordinary.
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Così Fan Tutte, Royal Opera House
September 22 - October 19
Perpetually, rightfully popular for its beautiful arias and some wonderfully playful Mozart. Cosi Fan Tutte, (or 'Women are all like that' if you want to feel riled up) is the tale of four lovers who get woefully intertwined when the boys pretend to go away to war, only to return in disguise to test their lovers. A young cast breathe new life into an old favourite.
Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy
September 24 - January 2
A studious expression from Jackson Pollock in his studio
The Royal Academy's big show for Autumn is definitely big- and bold. Expect huge, powerful painting from Rothko, Pollock, as well as lesser-known artists choosing equally vibrant, vibrating colours on their canvases. It's bound to be a crowd pleaser- this is the first show of its kind in London for fifty years. Just don't ask- what does it all mean?
Frieze Art Fair, Regent's Park
October 6 - October 9
It's back! Putting art in Regent's Park: this great contemporary art fair sprawls over the grounds with the offerings from 160 global galleries. The most stylish people in London will be buying and you can be too, tickets are on sale now. There's a sculpture gallery, a well-timed nineties exhibition, and plenty of contemporary art. Bring your good eye and a budget.
The Red Barn, National Theatre
October 6 - November 30
A brand new play based on a French psychological thriller by one of our greatest writers for stage: David Hare and directed by Robert Icke.
The book centres around one snowy night in Connecticut: two couples make their way home but events take a sinister turn and not everyone makes it back...
Expect a real barnstormer of a performance from Mark Strong (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), who brings shivers of stage presence to everything he does.
Picasso Portraits, National Portrait Gallery
October 6 - February 5
The National Portrait Gallery hosts the portraits that immortalised Picasso and distorted their sitters beyond recognition. It's hard to quantify the power that Picasso has over the world- it's not just his output, his masculinity, his status as pioneer of Cubism, as father of Modern Art. It's something else, too. Try and put your finger on it in his skewed faces. Of the formidable set of 75 portraits, highlights include portraits of composer Igor Stravinsky and self portraits of Pablo himself.
Igor Levit, Wigmore Hall
Wigmore Hall is the London venue for classical music: beautiful and intimate, it specialises in both early music and song, chamber and instrumental music. The Autumn whole season is lovely but book tickets for the young Russian-German pianist Igor Levitt, confidently playing through Beethoven's beloved sonatas. Levit's relationship with Beethoven is ongoing- his first ever recording, which was Beethoven's final sonatas, stunned the critics. His first date, September 28 is returns only. The October date of five sonatas still has tickets.
The Vulgar, Barbican
October 13 - February 5
Remember when pool sliders were the ugliest thing you ever saw and then the next season when everyone was wearing them? That's fashion. How it continuously reinvents what is cool, what is vulgar, is key to its success and the fascination it holds. Said Coco Chanel, "Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it.” And yet a host of designers, as we see from the exhibition, seem to embody it, if only for a time. Displaying their vulgarity in this clever Barbican show, which was designed with the help from a psychoanalyst are Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm McLaren, Moschino and Gucci and many more. The show encompasses 500 years of fashion history so expect some fun shockers that haven't aged well. Make sure you dress up for the occasion.
Christine and the Queens, Brixton Academy
We're dismayed, Christine and the Queens was our best-kept secret but Héloïse Letissier has gone and sold out within minutes of her tickets going on sale for this Brixton gig. After an extraordinary stint on the festival circuit, the bilingual French singer tours.. beg borrow or steal: if a ticket comes up, if she releases extra dates, if a scalper offers to scalp you for one, lose your hair like Arterton's Saint Joan and get one. At Latitude she stood on stage and calmly are a bunch of roses before singing. It was beautifully strange and her synth pop is dangerously addictive listening.
H&M x Kenzo
The much-hyped collaboration for Autumn has so far revealed posters with poets, artists and activists as models. The pieces are a fierce mix of slogans and tiger print. H&M x Kenzo is the latest fashion collaboration to lust for, and fashion collaborations might be the greatest triumph of the fashion world: if you want to own a true piece of the zeitgeist, you can't get much closer than Rodarte for & Other Stories or Balmain for H&M. With statement jumpers set to be all the rage this Autumn and our hopes pinned on a Kenzo tiger sweater reworked at an H&M price, you can't do much better than planning your queue strategy now.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Where to find your next Potterverse fix? The Cursed Child play might have taken us nineteen years later but this new film slings us seventy years earlier than the start of the original books, to Eddie Redmayne's adorably dorky Newt Scamander, who writes Harry Potter's first year textbook. He lets loose magical creatures in 30s New York to the astonishment of Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller. From the same studio as the eight films, this exciting addition shows us that the Harry Potter world has a dragon-filled past as well as a future.
The Little Match Girl, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
November 24 - January 22
For Christmas, don't settle for another big pantomime. Instead, head to one of the original locations of men in drag: go to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for a bit of magic. The counterpart to the Summer Globe, the playhouse has a shimmering atmosphere and is lit, as it traditionally was, by candles. Emma Rice, her of this summer's triumphant 'Wonder Season' at the Globe, is planning a 'Noir' season. For children, her production of the fairy tale 'The Little Match Girl' is a tearjerker and a classic. Though perennial Christmas fare- there's also a ballet version at Sadler's Wells- this candlelit version will be one your children never forget
The Red Shoes, Sadler's Wells
December 6 - January 29
Matthew Bourne's adaptation of The Red Shoes is set to be a Christmas hit. He's worked his magic with Swan Lake, with Cinderella, the question everyone asks is: what new spin with he put on the pirouette with this new adaptation? There's a brand new score to match Bourne's new choreography. Based on the award-winning 1948 film (above), itself loosely based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, a ballet dancer's dream to be the greatest dancer in the world cannot be reconciled with her need for love. Expect beauty and drama.
Saint Joan, Donmar Warehouse
December 9 - February 18
London clamoured for tickets when Gemma Arterton played Nell Gwynn. Now she's bringing the same racehorse looks, but not the same long locks- cutting her hair to be another figure of history: Joan, the inspired French peasant girl who leads France in battle. The tiny Donmar will host her army - both that stage and her legions of fans. Seats always go fast for the intimate venue- add Gemma and a script by Sir Bernard Shaw... you better book now.