Late Night London
In a city that never sleeps, hibernation isn’t an option. So once the sun’s gone down, get back up to explore the dark side of London…
The biannual festival Museums at Night (26-28 Oct) sees museums and galleries open after hours, giving you the chance to discover late-night exhibitions. Last year, 220,000 visitors attended 700 events in 500 venues across the country.
Now in its ninth year, the festival is produced by Culture24, an independent non-profit company that brings together art and heritage organisations to support the cultural sector and help it connect with audiences across the UK.
Don’t miss Thursday Late: Venice in Focus at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace (26 Oct), an evening celebrating Venetian culture and cuisine; and Craven Street Bones at Benjamin Franklin House (28 Oct), where you can find out how human skeletal remains came to be buried under its basement.
Museums and galleries aside, many of London’s attractions are still bustling at night. Sip Prosecco as you encounter sharks and stingrays at SEA LIFE London, which opens after dark, or take a spin on Coca-Cola London Eye, one of the world’s largest observation wheels, for a panoramic view of the city’s twinkling lights.
For lights of a different kind, attend Bach Brandenburg Concertos by Candlelight at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a classical concert by the internationally-acclaimed Feinstein Ensemble. Alternatively, enjoy a free candlelight tour of the grounds of Sir John Soane’s Museum on the first Tuesday of every month – or lose yourself in another time on a Silent Night Tour at Dennis Severs’ House. The tour stimulates your senses as you journey through rooms on a silent search for a family of Huguenot silk weavers, who are out of sight but can still be heard – you then must piece together a scene you have missed.
For an alternative night out, why not run through the city at night to see iconic sights lit up? Launched in 2015, Love London Night Run (www.lovelondonrunningtours.com) hosts 5km and 12km runs past St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and along the River Thames with regular stops for photo opportunities. You can test your city knowledge in a quiz mid-route, too.
Take a test of a different kind in Trapped in a Room with a Zombie (www.trappedinaroom.co.uk). Put your survival skills to the test as you and nine others work as a team to look for clues, solve riddles and discover the key that will unlock the door to the room you’re trapped in, in under an hour. If you fail, a brain-hungry zombie will be unleashed…
Ghost Bus Tours will save you from zombies but you’ll still have to deal with oddballs as you take a ride on the dark side on one of its vintage double-decker buses. Find out where Jack the Ripper lurked and see graves of plague victims as a peculiar conductor narrates London’s gloomy past. Just be ready for actors and special effects to make you jump out of your seat.
Jump out of your bus seat and into a theatre one at the Fortune Theatre, where you can catch Susan Hill’s best-selling ghost story, The Woman in Black. Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, it follows solicitor Arthur Kipps who is tasked with putting an eccentric’s affairs in order following her death on a remote village surrounded by eerie marshes.
Get your freak on
Spook yourself silly at these events over the Halloween period…
Want to test your zombie knowledge? Then visit Drink, Shop & Do (19 Oct. www.drinkshopdo.co.uk) and compete in its Halloween horror quiz. Frightening challenges and creepy riddles await you as comedian and DJ Huw Joseph hosts a chilling night of fun.
If that sounds too tame, then come face to face with ghosts and ghouls at The Roof Gardens, as it opens its doors for its annual Halloween party (27-28 Oct. www.virginlimitededition.com). To celebrate the spookiest night of the year, the gardens are transformed into a witch’s den with goblins and vampires. Arrive before 9pm to be treated (not tricked) with a themed cocktail.
The London Bridge Experience & London Tombs' adult-only Phobophobia – Night Terrors makes your worst nightmare come true as you encounter lost children trapped forever in a dark labyrinth.
Get in the Halloween mood by watching iconic horror films at Rivoli Pop Up Cinema (www.rivoliballroom.com). Start with the 1984 cult classic Nightmare on Elm Street (24 Oct), then work your way up to The Shining (25 Oct), Poltergeist (26 Oct) and – if you can bear it – The Exorcist (27 Oct).