There's plenty to keep you busy this month, from quirky art shows to traditional ceremonies and the first ice skating of the season. Here are 10 reasons to get booking for a selection of our favourite events.
Start your trip off with a bang at a firework festival. Every 5 November, bonfires and fireworks across the UK commemorate the anniversary of a failed attempt by Catholic rebels to kill King James I in 1605 by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. The hilltop Alexandra Palace, with views across the London skyline, hosts a huge festival of fireworks plus entertainment including a laser show, German Bier Festival, food stalls, DJs and circus performers.
9 November—3 January
If you like some cheeky (literally) cabaret, the all-male Australian troupe Briefs should be right up your street. Taking over the Spiegeltent in the heart of Leicester Square, Briefs: Close Encounters is a glorious mix of jaw-dropping circus skills, aerial acrobats, contemporary dance with a naughty twist, and drop deadgorgeous drag, with a comical, futuristic twist. It's all held together by the sassy MC, Shivannah (aka artistic director Fez Fa’anana), a star in stack heels. This show is adults only, but kids don't have to lose out: Brat Kids Carnival (to 31 Dec) is for ages 4+, where it's all about hula hoops, circus fun and lots of pumping music, to entertain children and parents alike.
Give your trip some sparkle and see our famous Christmas lights, following a tradition first started on Regent Street in 1954 when local shops and business decided to put up a display to show that post-war London was an attractive place to visit. Look out for some sparkling lights on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby and Covent Garden.
What links Lady Gaga, JFK, old toy cars and surgical blades? The new exhibition from British art duo Miss Bugs, whose “Echo Chamber” exhibition pops up at the 10 Hanover gallery. The pair created 15 large works constructed from tiny, brightly coloured objects such as plastic Japanese charms, superhero toys and Lego figures. The works show, thanks to the rise of social networks, that we all live in one big echo chamber of ideas.
The Lord Mayor’s Show is an annual, free spectacle celebrating the new Mayor of the City of London, a role which is now 803 years old, and whose job it is to be a champion for the country’s financial and professional services. In this, one of London’s biggest and most fascinating occasions, the Lord Mayor’s journey begins at Mansion House at 11 am, following a two-minute silence for Remembrance Day. The new mayor stops at the Royal Court to declare an oath to the Crown. At 1 pm, the procession returns via Victoria Embankment and finishes at 2.30 pm.
Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are just some of the tennis aces confirmed to compete at the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2. This prestigious tournament sees the world’s top eight men singles players and doubles teams, who have earned their ranking points on the ATP World Tour season, compete at the world’s largest indoor tennis event. The tournament has been played in major cities around the world since 1970, and held in London since 2009.
The force is definitely with you at the Royal Albert Hall as "Star Wars: A New Hope" is screened in concert, the first time that the film has ever been shown with a live score. The London Symphony Orchestra plays John Williams’ score, accompanying the film following Luke Skywalker as he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi and begins his Jedi training.
14 November—13 January 2019
One of the most festive, enchanting and fun things to do in festive London, Skate at Somerset House sees its dramatic, neoclassical courtyard transformed into an ice-covered playground. Cleverly illuminated, you can hire skates and whizz around the rink to a contemporary soundtrack. The event is sponsored by Fortnum & Mason, and features Fortnum’s Lodge, a pop-up Alpine-themed restaurant and the Skate Lounge serving cocktails and hot drinks.
17 November 2018—27 January 2019
The annual Hogwarts in the Snow is a festive treat at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. At this Harry Potter attraction, part of the Great Hall set is dressed for the Yule Ball, while the studio’s superb Hogwarts model is coated with a magical dusting of snow. Even the Gryffindor common room set is decorated for Christmas. In this behind-the-scenes glimpse at the world of making movies, take a closer look at the various types of snow that were used by the production crew. This attraction is included in your standard entry to the tour, so book as soon as you can for a very Harry Christmas.
With strong American connections in London, it’s no surprise that many venues hold Thanksgiving celebrations. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the day, from visiting Benjamin Franklin’s House, or watching the musical “Hamilton” (if you’re lucky enough to bag a ticket), about the formation of the country. If you are craving turkey, maple-buttered sweet potatoes, cornbread and pecan pie, visit Riding House Café in Fitzrovia, Rail House Café in Victoria or Blues Kitchen in Camden.