Culture After Dark: The Best Museum Late Night Openings
Here's our pick of the best lates in art galleries, London, this weekend and beyond
We have made a list of the very best Museum Lates London has to offer this weekend and beyond.
Booking in advance for museum lates is sometimes required, so start planning now!
The King Street hub of the international auction house often hosts late nights themed around one of their upcoming sales. Visitors can explore the curated spaces which play host to a variety of activities and talks. The most recent event invited admirers of Indian art and sparkling jewels to enjoy a visual feast of luxuries.
Click here for more information. Entrance is free.
The British Museum
The museum’s gorgeous evening openings are so popular that they've now had to introduce ticketed entry. Navigate this densely-packed treasure-trove – with its works by Hogarth, Canaletto, Turner and Rubens – by beautiful flickering candlelight. Every month the Soane Late focuses on a different highlight of their curated content. The next is 'The 80s Strike Back' on 15 June where guests can hear exclusive talks and purchase drinks from the themed bar. Tickets include access to the Return of the Past exhibition and visitors are encouraged to dress in 80s attire.
The National Portrait Gallery
Is there anyone who has walked around this gallery and not felt, at least once, the itch to try their hand at portraiture? Well, the most regular feature of the NPG’s Late Shifts is its weekly drop-in drawing session, so you can take action in the very place where inspiration strikes. Each session is led by a different artist and all the necessary material is provided. The Late Shift also provides film screenings, lectures, and DJs whose multi-genre sets are tailored to the artwork around them. There’s a Late Shift bar, but attendees can also get a drink at the Portrait Restaurant for a great view of the city.
Late Shift every Friday until 9pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free but some events may require a ticket.
Wednesday evenings see Edward the Confessor's 1066 Coronation Church opening late into the night. Westminster Abbey underwent a huge development under the watchful eyes of King Henry 'the builder' III and since then she has hosted no less than sixteen royal weddings. The glorious gothic pile has been the burial place of kings and queens, and of other distinguished figures in the nation’s history, from writers and musicians to politicians and scientists. Guests can potter round the 14th century cellar and enjoy a lovely dinner in the Cellarium Café & Terrace in the home of the ghosts of Abbey's monks and the Bearded Lady.
Wednesday evenings until 7pm. Click here for more information. Tickets on the door are half price after 4.30pm.
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Billed as the original late night event, the V&A's Friday Lates celebrate contemporary visual culture and design. Not only is there food, drink and music, but audiences are invited to participate in live installations, debates, performance and film screenings.
Last Friday of the month until 10pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free.
The Natural History Museum
Following the grand unveiling of Hope – the new piece de resistance in the Museum’s Hintze Hall – whales will take over after hours at the Natural History Museum for the rest of the year. Expect to bump into Museum cetacean experts and discover the wonderful world of whales, from singing and social bonding to hunting. Their next late event Beauty in the Beasts on 29 June explores the magnificence of creatures which usually make us squirm.
Last Friday of every month until 10pm. Click here for more information. Entry is free but some activities may require a ticket.
The London Transport Museum
Friday Lates at the London Transport Museum offer over-18s a date with a difference. There's sneaky peeks into the newest exhibitions, music, bars, and hot food to warm your belly as well as talks and craft activities to get hands on with. Their next late is Power, Play and Politics on 26 October which will explore the protests and pop-culture of the 1980s.
Fridays until 10pm. Click here for more information. Adults £15; Concessions and LTM Friends £12.
The Barbican Centre
The Barbican is open late into the night on Thursdays, with DJs, and drinks flowing so you can totter around the gallery, take part in workshops, and enjoy special events whilst making merry as the weekend approaches. It's a great opportunity to squeeze in a visit to their new exhibitions.
Thursdays until 10pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free.
The Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection opens its doors and invites you to enjoy cocktails, music, and dining on the first Friday of each month, whilst every Thursday is a late one at the gallery. Friday lates include workshops, live performances, debates, discussion, and a dose of nightly creativity before you head home, or out! We've loved the recent collections on show here, from animals to Bedlam.
First Friday of the month until 10pm and every Thursday until 10pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free.
If the Tate Britain has always been the straight-laced sibling of the more adventurous Tate Modern, then their Friday Lates seek to change this by putting the museum in the hands of the young. The 16-25 year olds from Tate Collective London put the emphasis on the experimental and disruptive, bringing you everything from dressing-up with drag kings to ‘provocative filmic collage’. You’ll get to discuss the ideas on offer and even craft things for yourself – and, with all the youthful energy in the room, it won’t lack for enthusiasm.
First Friday of every other month until 9:30pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free.