Culture After Dark: The Best Museum Late Night Openings
From Concrete Lates at the Hayward to Charles Dickens after dark, here's our pick of the best lates in art galleries, London, this Halloween and beyond
This weekend sees the return of the annual Museums at Night festival (25 - 27 October). For one weekend only, the already rich list of museum lates is expanded to include many smaller, more intimate institutions. We've picked a couple of Halloween-appropriate highlights from the Museums at Night festival programme, as well as the year-round lates programmes at our favourite galleries and museums. Booking in advance for Museums at Night is sometimes required, so start planning now!
Concrete Lates x Hayward, Southbank Centre
The Hayward Gallery's immersive Space Shifters exhibition is open from 8pm - 11pm on 26 October as part of a special Concrete Lates. After the exhibition closes, a lineup of electronic musicians and DJs just as avant-garde as the artworks will get into gear, filling the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer with future-focused beats until 2am. Experimental electronic musician Lorenzo Senni and the ambient-leaning Astrid Sonne feature on the esoteric lineup.
26 October, 8pm - 2am. £20 including exhibition entry, £12.50 without. Click here to book.
True Gothic - Tales of a Macabre Collection, Strawberry Hill House
Horace Walpole's Twickenham villa has been pinpointed as the start of the Gothic Revival in architecture, so at night its facades are distinctly spooky. This Halloween, join a candlelit tour taking visitors through some of the darker objects in Walpole's eccentric collection, recently reassembled for a magnificent new exhibition. Marvel at a necromancer's mirror and a lock of Mary Tudor's hair whilst venturing through one of London's most unique architectural gems.
25 – 26 October, £20 each. Click here to book.
Dickens after Dark, Charles Dickens Museum
This Victorian period home in Holborn, belonging to Dickens from 1837 to 1839, is opening is doors after usual hours to give visitors a taste of the 19th-century macabre. Fortune tellers are reading tarot cards, and actor Dominic Gerrard is reading extracts from supernatural stories written by Dickens and others. One ticket option includes a magic lantern show, giving you the chance to see some authentic Victorian-era projections.
25 October, £20 or £25 with lantern show. Click here to book.
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 featured talks on such diverse topics as Italian Modernism, taxidermy and glassmaking.
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 – their November event includes candlelit architectural drawing and guided tours of the museum's collection.
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? Conveniently, the most regular feature of the NPG’s Friday Lates is its weekly drop-in drawing session among the portraits. Each session is led by a different artist and all the necessary material is provided. There are also a variety of film screenings, lectures, and DJs whose multi-genre sets are tailored to the artwork around them. Attendees can get a drink at the specially installed bar, or alternatively the Portrait Restaurant for a great view of the city.
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, home of the ghosts of the Abbey's monks and the Bearded Lady.
Wednesday evenings until 6pm. 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
The NHM opens late on the last Friday of every month, hosting exhibitions, talks as well as giving visitors the chance to look round the grand building after sunset.
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 complex proper is open to 11pm every evening, with plenty of cinema, dining and drinking choices available. Their art gallery, currently showing a groundbreaking exhibition on artistic couples, is usually open until 6pm but extends to 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, allowing you to fit in a few more hours of art before settling down to dinner or getting the party started.
Thursdays and Fridays until 9pm. Click here for more information. Entrance is free.
The Wellcome Collection
The Wellcome Collection opens its doors later every Thursday until 10pm, and its restaurant and shop follow suit.
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.